The community-based clinical trials on the use of virgin coconut oil (VCO) as a treatment for COVID-19 is expected to be finished by December, the Department of Science and Technology- Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) said on Wednesday.
Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, Executive Director of DOST-PCHRD, said the community trials being conducted in Sta. Rosa, Laguna is “supposed to finish December of this year, assuming that all the patients are in and they have been followed up, and completed the treatment of 28 days.”
Montoya said around 90 patients were selected for the community-based trial. Half of the participants were given VCO while the other half was given the “standard of care.”
The hospital-based clinical trial which is being conducted at the University of the Philippines–Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2021, according to Montoya.
‘Don’t depend on it’
Montoya said that while VCO has been proven to work in decreasing the number of SARS-CoV-2 in the laboratory, they have yet to know whether it actually works when it’s given to people infected with the virus.
“We have to check that by doing clinical trials, in order to verify,” Montoya said.
Montoya said it’s still “difficult to speculate” on how the use of VCO will impact the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We don't want people to have the impression that we already said that it actually works,” Montoya said.
"We still have to finish the clinical trials for us to make a definitive conclusion as to whether it can actually help or not,” he added.
He also asked the public not to "depend" on VCO nor “expect it” to actually cure them of COVID-19.
“You have to actually still do the other things that are required and receive standard of care. This is still not an approved indication for COVID-19," he said.
Based on local studies, scientists found that VCO contributes to about 60 to 90 percent decrease in the amount of SARS-CoV-2 in the laboratory, “for as long as it is done when the viral loads are still low.”
According to Montoya, what VCO does is “destroy” the surface or coat that shields the virus from attackers such as antibodies.
“If you destroy that coat, then first, it is actually prone to destruction, and number two, it is not able to enter the cells because it has to have that coat because it carries the receptor or the substance that makes it possible for them to enter the cell,” Montoya said.