No significant benefit on use of VCO as an adjunct therapy for hospitalized COVID-19 patients, clinical trial results show

Published November 26, 2021, 12:04 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Results of the virgin coconut oil (VCO) trial at Philippine General Hospital (PGH) showed that hospitalized coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients did not significantly benefit from VCO as an adjunct therapy.


The results of the VCO clinical trial at the PGH were presented by Dr. Fresthel Monica Climacosa, one of the six clinical trial investigators for VCO study which involved symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 adult patients at PGH.

“In conclusion, our clinical trial on hospitalized patients did not demonstrate significant benefit on the use of VCO as an adjunctive therapy for hospitalized COVID-19 patients,” she said during the webinar entitled, “Repurposing Natural Resources for COVID-19” initiated by the Department of Science and Technology- Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) on Thursday, Nov. 25, as part of this year’s National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) celebration.

“Exploratory studies on dosing regimen, the type of VCO formulation including timing of administration, may be needed to determine the role of VCO in the management of viral infections such as COVID-19,” she added.

The team, led by Dr. Marissa M. Alejandria of the University of the Philippines-Manila National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH), employed an open-label, randomized controlled trial involving 77 hospitalized COVID-19 adult patients. The recruited trial participants were randomized to enter the control group receiving standard of care (SOC) only or treatment group receiving VCO and SOC.

“In our study, we did not see significant benefit of VCO use with regards to the duration of hospital stay, time to symptom resolution, mortality, need for invasive ventilation and negative viral conversion,” Climacosa said.

The VCO dose given to the patients is 15 milliliters (ml) thrice a day after meals for 14 days, administered orally or via nasogastric tube.

“We tried to have a subgroup analysis wherein the asymptomatic, mild and moderate we aggregate them together and the severe and critical patients were combined as the severe group, but this subgroup analysis also also showed no difference in the duration of hospitalization,” Climacosa said.

“We further subdivide our patients according to disease severity and still found no statistical difference between the study arms in their length of hospital stay,” she added.

The trial investigators also found that the treatment of VCO did not seem to alter duration of symptoms associated with COVID-19.

“In all symptoms combined, the resolution takes 6.79 days for the treatment group and 6.73 days for the controlled group. This is not statistically significant,” Climacosa said.

She noted that there was also no significant difference in the time of resolution of COVID-19 related symptoms such as fever, colds, cough, difficulty of breathing, weakness, loss of taste, anosmia, loss of appetite between the two groups.

The project team also found that on per-protocol analysis, there was no significant difference in duration of hospital stay and time to symptom resolution.

Climacosa noted that four study participants experienced “intolerable” adverse events such as diarrhea and abdominal pain which “led to the discontinuation of the VCO administration.”

“No one in the VCO group needed ICU admission nor invasive ventilation during our 14-day monitoring compared to the control group that there was one patient who needed to be admitted to the ICU and three patients who needed invasive ventilation. But again, these are not statistically significant,” she said.