By Dhel Nazario
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is also looking at the effectiveness of certain herbal medicines against COVID-19. In a palace press briefing on Monday, APril 27, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that there are also studies with herbal drugs like lagundi and tawa-tawa.
“Isa sa tinitignan ay ang lagundi po. Tinitignan po natin kung paano magagamit ang lagundi ng mga pasyenteng may COVID-19. Pinag-aaralan din po ng DOST kung makakatulong yung tawa-tawa na tinatawag para po isang supplement sa dengue. Ito po ay titignan nila kung talagang epektibo nga laban sa COVID-19 (We are also looking at lagundi. We are studying how lagundi can help patients with COVID-19. The DOST is also studying tawa-tawa which is a supplement for dengue. We are looking if these two are effective against COVID-19),” Roque said.
He said that the DOST also funded two clinical trials of Virgin Coconut Oil that are being conducted by the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Pena has mentioned that VCO will serve as a supplement to the daily treatment regimen of the COVID-19 positive patients. The study aims to assess the possible benefits of VCO if given to patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 in addition to the drugs being assessed in the clinical trials.
The second study is being implemented by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of DOST which will evaluate the effect of VCO in alleviating the symptoms of COVID-19 such as difficulty in breathing and coughing.
This study is in partnership with Dr. Fabian Dayrit of the Ateneo De Manila University and the Duke-National University of Singapore (Duke-NUS). The study will determine whether certain coconut oil components can diminish or prevent the infectivity of SARS-CoV2, the causative virus of COVID-19.
According to Roque, the country has also joined World Health Organization solidarity trial. “Ito po ay bunsod sa kagustuhan ng ating Presidente na makipagtulungan ayo sa lahat ng mga dalubhasa sa buong mundo upang magkaroon na po tayo ng vaccine o ‘di naman kaya ay gamot para dito sa COVID-19 (This is due to the desire of the President to collaborate with experts around the world so we can develop a vaccine or a cure for COVID-19),” he said.
The DOST has already initiated contact for possible collaboration with its bilateral partners to aid the COVID-19 situation in the country. It said that it has specifically expressed its willingness to collaborate with other countries on clinical trials on COVID-19 vaccine development, that will help not just the country, but also all countries affected by this pandemic.
Roque disclosed that there are four drugs that are being subjected to clinical trials involving Filipino patients. These are chloroquine or hydrochloroquine [hydroxychloroquine], remdesivir, liponavir, ritonavir, and interferon.
He also revealed that there is a study of a COVID-19 treatment by a biotech group in collaboration with PGH that is also being subjected to clinical trials at the hospital. “Ito pong posibleng gamot na ito ay nagnanais na ma-alleviate po ang mga active infections at magbigay po ng short-term immunity or prophylaxis laban sa virus (This drug aims to alleviate the active infections and give short-term immunity or prophylaxis against the virus),” Roque said.