The Philippines has conducted clinical studies to determine the efficacy of virgin coconut oil (VCO) as adjunct treatment against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary for Research and Development (R&D) Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevara said an in-vitro study, community trials and hospital trials have so far been conducted to look into the efficacy of virgin coconut oil as a potential supplement to help prevent symptoms from becoming severe for probable and suspect COVID cases, and as an adjunct therapy for hospitalized COVID patients.
She said the “In-Vitro Study on the Efficacy of Lauric Acid and Its Derivatives against SARS-CoV-2″ was conducted by Dr. Fabian Dayrit and his team from March to August 2020.
“Results of this study show that VCO compounds decrease the amount of virus by 60 to 90 percent in mild cases. The results are consistent with the previous literature in terms of VCO’s capability to destroy the virus, but not its capability to prevent viral replication,” Guevara said in a briefer sent to the Manila Bulletin.
The DOST official said the DOST has supported the community trials on VCO conducted by its Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI), citing the need “to conduct further studies to confirm the actual benefits of using it as an adjunct therapy for COVID-19.”
“Interim results of the community trial demonstrated that mixing VCO with meals can reduce symptoms of COVID-19, thus possibly preventing its progression to more severe symptoms. Comprehensive data on this study is already published in the Journal of Functional Foods,” she said.
The project team is led by DOST-FNRI Director Dr. Imelda Angeles Agdeppa.
Guevara said Agdeppa’s team was also able to conduct the study in Valenzuela City and Muntinlupa City to cover the asymptomatic reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)-confirmed COVID-19 patients and the positive RT-PCR patients with mild to moderate symptoms, respectively, which were not included in the Sta. Rosa study site.
“From the additional study arms, the project team has enrolled a total of 76 study participants,” she said.
The VCO study results in Santa Rosa, Laguna showed that meals mixed with VCO could reduce COVID-19 symptoms in suspect and probable cases, thus, possibly preventing the progression or severity of the disease.
In December 2020, the FNRI team reported the effectiveness of VCO on 57 probable and suspected cases at the Santa Rosa Community Quarantine Facility and in Santa Rosa Community Hospital.
Results of the FNRI study on VCO as dietary supplement among COVID-19 probable and suspect cases showed that “five of the 29 patients who were served meals with VCO manifested diminishing signs and symptoms as early as the second day, while only one patient served with the same meals but without VCO showed similar improvement.”
The VCO group of patients who were served meals with VCO showed no COVID-19 related symptoms at Day 18, while symptoms persisted in some patients of the Control Group of patients who were served the same meals without VCO until Day 23, it showed.
Guevara said they were expecting the release of the results of VCO trial at Philippine General Hospital (PGH) by end of the month or early November.
“A total of 77 patients were enrolled in the study and currently, the data analysis and report writeup are ongoing,” she said.
The study aims to evaluate the effects of VCO as an adjunctive therapy among hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
It involved COVID-19 patients with moderate to severe conditions at PGH.
The project team is led by Dr. Marissa M. Alejandria of the University of the Philippines-Manila National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH).
DOST’s ‘Life-saving’ investment
The DOST has invested P8.4 million to determine the safety and efficacy of VCO as adjunctive therapy for hospitalized COVID-19 patients, and to evaluate its beneficial effect for probable COVID-19 patients who are quarantined in a center or hospital.
The DOST said its Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) allocated the amount to explore the use of VCO as “life-saving solution to fight COVID-19.”
Of the amount, P4.8 million was given to the project, “Virgin Coconut Oil as Adjunctive Therapy for Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients”.