Laguna VCO clinical trials for COVID-19 treatment to be completed by December – DOST

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 21) – The community-based clinical trials on virgin coconut oil (VCO) as adjunct treatment for COVID-19 is expected to be finished by December, an official of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said.

The tests, which are conducted at the Sta. Rosa Community Hospital in Laguna, involve probable and mild COVID-19 patients, according to Jaime Montoya, executive director of DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, in an interview with CNN Philippines' News.PH on Wednesday.

"Ito pong sa community-based sa Laguna, ang target end ng study is end of December this year," Montoya said. "So, depende po 'yan, pwedeng mapaaga 'yan kung ang needed sample size o mga patients ay mai-enroll kaagad."

[Translation: The target end for the community-based trials in Laguna is by the end of December this year. But that still depends if we're able to secure at an earlier time the needed sample size or enrolled patients.]

Meanwhile, the other VCO clinical trials at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) are seen to be completed by the first quarter of 2021. The PGH trials are looking into the effects of VCO on hospitalized COVID-19 patients or those with moderate cases of the disease.

The two trials aim to find out if the VCO can shorten recovery time for patients and prevent hospitalization or further complications from the virus.

The DOST recently announced that the months-long laboratory experiments on VCO yielded "very promising results." Data showed that VCO can reduce coronavirus count by 60 to 90 percent.

"But ito ay nangyayari lang at low concentrations ng virus, so sa laboratoryo ito (But this only happens at low concentrations of the virus, so in a laboratory setting)," Montoya clarified, noting that researchers would still have to see whether these positive results will be duplicated in the clinical trials.

He added that the studies were designed to have VCO only as adjuvant or additional treatment for COVID-19. This means patients should not rely on it alone and that it has to be taken in combination with other treatments.

According to the World Health Organization, there is still no licensed medication to cure COVID-19.

To date, the viral disease has hit over 362,243 people in the country, of whom 311,506 recovered and 6,747 died.