The Agriculture Department through the Philippine Coconut Authority teamed up with other government agencies and the academe to assess the therapeutic properties of virgin coconut oil against coronavirus disease 2019.
“This is indeed good news for us, a silver lining in the scientific community. This inter-agency effort is reflective of the ‘Bayanihan to Heal as One Act’ the success of which will not only help our COVID-19 patients, but also benefit our marginal coconut farmers,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
PCA administrator Benjamin Madrigal Jr. said previous studies showed that VCO had high potency anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities.
“Initial research results showed that the lauric acid in VCO helps fight the coronavirus in three ways. It disintegrates the virus membrane, inhibits virus maturation and prevents binding of viral proteins to the host cell membrane,” Madrigal said.
The ongoing study, with an initial P5 million funding, is being conducted by PCA in partnership with the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Philippine Center for Health Research and Development and Science Department Region 4A, the Health Department, University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital and the team of Professor Fabian Antonio Dayrit of Ateneo de Manila University.
The two-pronged community-based modified clinical study on the use of VCO will involve persons under investigation for COVID-19 infection who exhibit symptoms of the disease. The tests are being conducted by the FNRI with DOST-4A, Santa Rosa City government in Laguna and Medical City South Luzon.
VCO is used as a supplement to the daily treatment regimen, in addition to the pharmaceutical drugs being assessed in clinical trials of COVID-19 positive patients at PGH.
“To ensure the success of said research studies, the PCA is providing all the quality VCO that has passed stringent laboratory analysis for its physio-chemical, microbial and heavy metal content,” said Madrigal, noting that the agency contributed P1.4 million to the inter-agency initiative.
PCA will also support all the clinical laboratory tests in the community-based studies to determine the anti-viral and immune system boosting qualities of VCO.
“With this favorable development, the demand for VCO has started to pick up with the ongoing confirmatory clinical research at UP-PGH and at the community quarantine facility in Sta. Rosa, Laguna,” Madrigal said.
Federation of Philippine Industries chairman Jesus Lim Arranza offered to supply VCO for free, one of the group’s response to help find a cure for COVID-19.
FPI said in a letter to the Science Department and the University of the Philippines on April 4 that Tropical Foods Inc. agreed to provide the VCO needed for the on-going research.
Tropical Foods is a member of the Coconut Oil Refiners Association which is a member association of FPI.