The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said Wednesday, June 30, that the clinical trial on Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) as adjunct treatment for patients with moderate and severe cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) may be completed “within July.”
DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña, during the Laging Handa public briefing, said that the department has been conducting clinical trials using VCO to assist COVID-19 treatment but there were some challenges that hampered the progress of the study.
“Sa tingin ko po ang matatapos lamang [na clinical trials] sa end-June ay sa lagundi. Yun pong sa virgin coconut oil ay within July (I think the only clinical trial that will completed by end-June is the Lagundi. For the virgin coconut oil, I think it will be within July),” de la Peña said.
De la Peña said that there were some factors that affected the progress of VCO clinical trials such as the number of participants needed. “We need those who are suspect and probable cases of COVID-19 or those with moderate and severe symptoms,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
There is also a need to analyze their co-morbidities when they participate in the trial. He noted the importance of taking into consideration the co-morbidities of the patients before undergoing the trial.
However, taking the into consideration those co-morbidities resulted to a lower number of people qualifying for the said trial. “What happened was, there were fewer qualified participants,” De la Peña said.
From the initial goal of 100, the participants are now down to 78.
Another factor, he noted, is that the study was being done at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila. However, the fire that broke out in the hospital in May also affected the timeline of the clinical trial.
In May, DOST said that based on initial findings, VCO can be utilized to avoid “further transmission of the virus” and as a “viable and affordable treatment” against COVID-19.