Webinar on “Health and Economic Benefits of VCO during COVID-19 and Beyond” was organized on 8th December 2020. This is in continuation of the agreement between the International Coconut Community (ICC) in collaboration with the Non-Aligned Movement Centre for South-South Technical Cooperation (NAM-CSSTC) in providing cooperative services to the member countries in research and development programs, capacity-building, technology transfer, under the theme: “Stay Healthy and Productive during Covid-19 Pandemic”.
More than 75 people from the ICC and NAM-CSSTC member countries in Asia, Australia, the Pacific, and Africa took part in the webinar.
Dr. Jelfina C. Alouw, Executive Director, in her welcome speech, addressed that the pandemic has restricted our mobility, but at the same time has triggered us to find ways to stay productive and has enabled scientists and medical doctors to reveal the coconut oil as an adjuvant against COVID-19. All member countries and national bodies are encouraged to do more studies to reveal more excellent potential of coconut oil and other coconut-based products to improve the previous findings and get more benefits. The diversification of coconut-derived products and value-addition help the small and marginal farmers who depend on coconut for their livelihood to realize a better return.
VCO has gained its popularity during early 2000 because of lauric acid's antimicrobial properties, the major fatty acids in VCO. Coconut oil has been endorsed by the World Dental Association as an antibiotic against tooth decay. The antibacterial activity of coconut oil takes on a special significance today when the number of antibiotic-resistance bacteria is rapidly increasing. VCO has anti-inflammatory, skin-protective activities, effective therapy for Alzheimer's, and most recently as an adjuvant against COVID-19. She hoped that the participants also come forward to consume, promote, and set up a VCO processing unit in their area as the source of functional food for their families and they can sell them as a source of income. We look forward to a global economic recovery from COVID-19 and sustainable coconut development.
Dr. Atmarita, MPH. Ph, Member of Expert Team, Indonesian Nutrition Association, presented “Health Benefits of VCO against COVID-19”. She explained the composition, purity, and benefits of VCO. VCO had an antithrombotic effect, a significant beneficial impact on blood coagulation, which could help prevent cardiovascular diseases, has the same anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antipyretic, antioxidant, anti-stress, and antimicrobial properties.
Dr. Fabian M. Dayrit, Professor Emeritus, Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines, and Chairman, ICC Scientific Advisory Committee on Health, presented “Clinical Trial on the Impact of VCO as Adjuvant Against COVID-19”, the beneficial effects of Virgin Oil and its characteristics. Dr. Toby explained the mechanism, how the VCO fights against the COVID-19 virus through its antiviral, immunomodulatory, and anti-inflammatory activities. He also presented the results from clinical studies on COVID-19 cases, proved that VCO is an affordable, readily available, and healthy functional food. Still, it needs further R & D to study whether VCO is effective in protecting persons with comorbidities and can improve the efficacy of vaccines.
Mr. Annas Ahmad, Marketing Manager, Vico Bagoes, presented “Manufacturing & Marketing with Economic Benefits of VCO” which explained the production and marketing process of VCO. The VCO can be processed by both dry and wet processes (fermentation or centrifuge). There are some concerns from the production aspect: taste and aroma, quality, certification, and cost-benefit analysis. The VCO market is rising, accelerated by the back-to-nature lifestyle trend, COVID-19, new research findings, and social media. There are more than 100 new brands founded in the market now. VCO still needs more development and innovation. Digital marketing could increase market awareness and promote the benefits of coconut oil.
In his closing remarks, Ambassador Diar Nurbintoro, Acting Director, NAM CSSTC, mentioned that the collaboration between NAM-CSSTC and ICC webinar and online training program commenced from September 2020 has gained positive responses from participants. The webinar has created a bridge that linked the agriculture and the health sectors. He hoped that the research on VCO against COVID-19 would inspire the coconut stakeholders to increase VCO production as a value-added product that will improve farmers' welfare, especially in the NAM-CSSTC and ICC member countries.
There was an in-depth discussion on the topics, and the speakers addressed the queries. The webinar was moderated by Mr. Vincent Johnson, Interim COGENT coordinator, ICC.