NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
Should virgin coconut oil (VCO) prove to be an effective adjunct treatment against the coronavirus, Rep. Erico Aristotle Aumentado said he will consolidate the local production for bulk shipment to the developer to refine it into medical grade.
Aumentado who chairs the House Committee on Science and Technology quoted S & T Secretary Fortunato de la Peña that clinical trials of VCO on patients with slight to severe coronavirus disease 2019 (CoViD-19) are now ongoing, and that results are expected to be out next week.
The solon emphasized that he, or Sec. de la Peña, or the scientists, for that matter, are not peddling that VCO is the cure. He said VCO will only be used – depending on the clinical trials’ results – as an adjunctive treatment in order to relieve patients’ symptoms and provide comfort while on the way to recovery.
As the coconut is a major agricultural product in Bohol, the solon said it is not surprising that enterprising farmers and their families would venture into VCO production to provide added value to the plain old coconut, considering that the price of the labor-intensive copra has gone down and is not seen to enjoy improved pricing anytime soon.
But studies have not been conducted on patients with heavy viral load. The Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI)-led study involved only probable and suspect CoViD-19 patients in a quarantine hospital in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
This study showed that among those given VCO with their meals three times a day, relief of symptoms manifested on Day 2, with no more symptoms observed on Day 18. The non-VCO control group, however, showed improvement only on Day 3, and their symptoms stopped only on Day 23.
De la Peña is waiting for the results of the double-blind study conducted on severe CoViD-19 patients at the Philippine General Hospital. This means both the participants and the researchers do not know who among the patients are given VCO and who are not.
Scientists already conclude that VCO is good for prophylaxis or protection because of its anti-viral properties. But more clinical studies are needed to determine its efficacy as a treatment or cure – especially among severe cases. (June S. Blanco)