MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) of the Philippines has got an Ethics Committee approval for a study on the efficacy of virgin coconut oil (VCO) as a food supplement to help fight against corona virus 2019 (COVID-19).
Science Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said that the approval given by the Ethics Committee convened by the DOST, Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) paved the way for the first stage to conduct three parallel VCO studies by the agency.
“We can now proceed with the organizational aspects, including the randomized selection of patients who are willing to participate in the trials. We hope to get results at the fastest in 28 days,” Dela Peña told to The STAR. He added that “This is an important study as far as we are concerned because VCO is something available locally. It can also be the start of similar studies involving other therapies,”
He said that an Ethics Committee review is required for clinical trials. “All researches which involve living subjects require ethics clearance. Even for animal trials. More so for humans,” the DOST chief mentioned that the VCO study that has got the ethics committee clearance is that of the FNRI research and development on VCO as a food supplement, done in collaboration with the DOST-Calabarzon and Mayor Arlene Arcillas-Nazareno of Santa Rosa, Laguna.
Alexander Madrigal, DOST-Calabarzon Regional Director, said that the Ethics Committee review and approval had outlined all the ethical requirements and health issues to be addressed during the conduct of the nutritional study on VCO. “This is a modified clinical study, nearly like a regular clinical trial, but this one leads toward approval as a food supplement,” Madrigal told to The STAR, if it clears the modified clinical trial, that there can be therapeutic claims made for VCO.
Madrigal said the FNRI, DOST-Calabarzon, Santa Rosa, Laguna government and Medical City South Luzon collaboration for the VCO study will involve 90 persons under investigation for COVID-19 infection who exhibit symptoms of the virus. The DOST has provided P5 million (US$ 99,000) for the VCO study.
The DOST is also funding other R&D on VCO as a COVID-19 cure being pursued by other groups such as that of Professor Fabian Antonio Dayrit of Ateneo de Manila University. Dayrit in partnership with Duke University-National University of Singapore is testing coconut oil’s ability to diminish or prevent infection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The other DOST-supported study on VCO is the hospital-based study by the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital titled “Virgin Coconut Oil and Omega-3a Adjunctive Therapy for Hospitalized Patients with COVID 19” that will be headed by Dr. Marissa Alejandria, president of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.
This study will involve the serving of VCO as a supplement to the daily treatment regimen of COVID-19 positive patients at PGH. The study aims to assess the possible benefits of VCO if given to patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 in addition to the drugs being assessed in clinical trials.