The Philippines is planning to take the lead in the global “solidarity trials” for virgin coconut oil (VCO) as a possible cure for COVID-19, revealed a scientist involved in the VCO study.
The local study will boost or expand the successful clinical trials by the Department of Science and Technology- Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) that showed VCO as effective in treating mild cases of COVID-19.
Prof. Fabian Dayrit of the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) and member of the FNRI study team that conducted the clinical trials on VCO in Santa Rosa, Laguna, said the Philippines can tap the International Coconut Community (ICC) for the global study on VCO.
Dayrit said the team is planning to meet online with the ICC to discuss a global solidarity trial similar to those being organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) on candidate COVID-19 vaccines.
“There will be stronger acceptance if the study is done in many places. If it’s replicated in many places and the results are the same,” said Dayrit during a recent virtual conference held by the DOST to present the positive results of the study.
Dayrit, who is a chemist, said the Philippines can lead this effort since it is the biggest exporter of VCO in the world. “It will certainly benefit our own VCO producers,” he added.
The ICC is an intergovernmental organization of coconut producing countries organized in 1969 under the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP).
The ICC Secretariat is located in Jakarta, Indonesia, headed by an executive director.
Dayrit said the solidarity trial will “replicate the (DOST-FNRI) study so we can reproduce (the sample size or population).”
He revealed that their clinical study involved only 57 COVID-19 suspected cases, more than half of which tested positive for the virus.
Dayrit said the international solidarity trials on VCO could increase the sample or patient population to at least 3,000.
The DOST-FNRI study, involving the provision of meals mixed with VCO to 57 suspected COVID-19 cases confined at the Santa Rosa Community Hospital in Santa Rosa City, Laguna and the Santa Rosa COVD-19 Quarantine Facility, showed all participants recovering and testing negative for COVID-19 at the end of the 28-day clinical trials.
DOST’s Imelda Agdeppa, study leader, said that of the 57 patient-participants, 37 had tested positive for COVID-19.
Of the 37, she said 19 were in the group given meals mixed with VCO, and 18 were in the control group, who were given meals without VCO.
“The results speak so loud, that if we give VCO, the CRP C-reactive protein, which is actually a marker for the indication of the presence of infection or inflammation, has actually significantly declined at Day 14, of our (intervention),” Agdeppa said.
“It actually went down, the line, until Day 28. So that means that our VCO has really improved in terms of their conditions or presence of infection,” she said.
“As for our recommendation: VCO is actually a functional food, it is an adjunct supplement, to ease the symptoms of suspect and probable cases of COVID-19, so it won’t develop into a severe case,” Agdeppa said.
She stressed that they have to do further studies to make an outright health claim that VCO can treat COVID-19.