Tests set for possible benefits of coconut oil on COVID-19 patients

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Catherine A. Modesto, CNN Philippines

Metro Manila (April 2, CNN Philippines) — As the world races against time for the coronavirus disease cure, Filipino scientists will begin looking into the possible benefits of virgin coconut oil on COVID-19 patients, the Department of Science and Technology said Thursday.

The study, titled “Virgin Coconut Oil and Omega-3a Adjunctive Therapy for Hospitalized Patients with COVID 19,” will be conducted at the Philippine General Hospital led by Dr. Marissa Alejandria on April 8, Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato de la Peña told CNN Philippines in an interview.

The research aims to find out if coconut oil may reduce the duration or severity of symptoms.

Fortunato said in the hospital-based clinical trial, coconut oil will be given as “supplement to the daily treatment regimen of the COVID-19 positive patients.”

The trial may possibly run for about a month or until the minimum number of patients required completing the study is achieved.

Fortunato said a parallel study will be conducted on suspected virus carriers isolated in communities and hospitals in Calabarzon and Metro Manila.

DOST’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute will spearhead the community-based study. It will incorporate coconut oil in the food, with which patients under investigation are provided. It will be assisted by the DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development and the Philippine Coconut Authority.

In February, Ateneo de Manila University Professor Emeritus Fabian Antonio Dayrit and Dr. Mary Newport of Spring Hill Neonatolody in Florida, United States proposed a clinical study on patients infected with COVID-19 involving virgin coconut oil, saying “this treatment is affordable and virtually risk-free, and the potential benefits are enormous.”

Last month, Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases spokesman and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the National University of Singapore has agreed to the request of the Philippines to test coconut oil as a COVID-19 prophylactic. The clinical trial is ongoing, de la Peña said.

Current evidence suggests coconut oil and its derivatives are safe and effective antiviral compounds in both humans and animals, Dayrit and Newport noted in a research proposal published in January.

COVID-19 is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2 for short.

The respiratory infection presents with common symptoms such as fever, dry cough and shortness of breath.

The disease has so far infected over 2,000 people and killed 88 in the country.