DOST faces challenge in patient recruitment for VCO trial at PGH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 23) — Months after the approval of a clinical trial at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) on virgin coconut oil (VCO) as a supplement for COVID-19 treatment, the proponents still find it difficult to recruit participants, an official revealed on Friday.

“Nagsimula na po ang patient enrollment para sa VCO clinical trial subalit may mga pasyenteng ayaw sumali sa naturang pag-aaral,” Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary Rowena Guevarra said in a briefing.

[Translation: The patient enrollment for the VCO clinical trial has begun but some patients do not want to participate in the study.]

Guevarra did not provide reasons for patients' refusal to join.

He said the project teams will continue to recruit volunteers among newly admitted patients with moderate and severe symptoms.

DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said in June the proponents of the study, which aims to find out if VCO could help reduce the severity of symptoms, are hoping to get 100 volunteers and complete the tests by May of next year.

Another study at the PGH that faces a challenge in patient recruitment is the clinical trial for anti-viral drug Avigan, which was supposed to begin in August.

Health spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire has attributed the obstacle to the decreasing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases being admitted in the hospital, as well as several other clinical trials being conducted in the country.

The medical research, which will be conducted in select hospitals in Metro Manila, has been postponed several times due to other reasons such as funding and documentary requirements.

Meanwhile, the other VCO clinical trial at the Sta. Rosa Community Hospital in Laguna, which involves COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms, is ongoing. The DOST has set the target date for the completion of tests for December.