We’ll carry on as best as we can

Published July 25, 2020, 10:30 PM

by Manila Bulletin

In the effort to fight the COVID-9 virus, Philippine scientists are looking into the possibility that some of our own native therapeutic supplements might be of help. Among these is coconut oil.

 Lauric acid, which makes up about 50 percent of coconut oil, has long been known for its antiviral properties. Capric acid, which accounts for 7 percent of coconut oil, has also been shown to have antiviral properties and had promising results against another viral disease, HIV, in 2007.

In the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) was used in helping 20 inmate-patients of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center in a study by an Ateneo de Manila University professor. The 20 inmate-patients recovered from a mild strain of coronavirus after regularly taking VCO in April and May.

Two other medicinal plants – lagundi and tawa-tawa – are in the list of therapeutic supplements in the treatment of COVID-19 patients in the Philippines, the Department of Science and Technology said. These Philippine supplements are helping in the care and treatment of Filipino patients in our hospitals.

But the real game-changer in the ongoing pandemic will be the discovery and wide use of an effective vaccine that will help billions of people in the world, now worried about getting infected by the deadly COVID-19 virus.

The most promising effort among some 200 ongoing developments globally appears to be that of the University of Oxford in England with the firm AstraZeneca, which said its vaccine should be available globally by the end of this year. ”Perhaps a little earlier if all goes well,” AstraZeneca Director Pascal Soriot said.

A second group – Pfizer of the United States and German biotech group BioNTech – is developing a different type of vaccine which causes human cells to mimic the outer surface of the coronavirus. The human body sees these as foreign invaders and then mounts an immune response against the virus. The US has already reached reached a $1.95-billion deal with Pfizer to get 100 million doses of this vaccine for the American people.

A third vaccine prospect is one under development by CanSino Biologics and China’s military research unit. It induced an immune response in most of 508 volunteers, researchers reported. Chinese Ambassador to Manila Huang Xilian assured last Tuesday that China would give priority to the Philippines once this vaccine is ready.

These vaccines, however, are expected to be ready only by the end of this year. And then the production of hundreds of millions of doses will take time, as will the subsequent distribution over vast distances to all the countries of the world buying the vaccine, even at cost.

We will ultimately get some of the vaccines but much later than some nations which are now in greater need and with greater resources. Until we do, we will have to carry on as best as we can, using the resource that we have, including the native therapeutic supplements that have been helping many of our patients.