DOST to test virgin coconut oil on COVID-19 patients
Patients are being selected for the clinical trial of virgin coconut oil (VCO) as treatment for new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Science Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said on Thursday.
De la Peña said that following the ethics board approval of the trial, the personnel of Santa Rosa Community Hospital underwent training for the endeavor while agreements were drawn up with the Santa Rosa local government and other parties involved.
The enrollment of patients for the 28-day trial in Santa Rosa City, Laguna province, is also under way, he said in the televised news briefing.
The trial will involve 45 patients, including suspected cases where the patients are showing symptoms of COVID-19, the severe respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.
Another 45 will serve as the control group, or those who will not be given virgin coconut oil, De la Peña said.
The Food and Nutrition Institute will provide the meals for the patients, while the Philippine Coconut Authority will supply the unbranded VCO, aside from helping fund the research. The meals of those enrolled in the trial will be mixed with three tablespoons of VCO, De la Peña said.
He said he expected the University of the Philippines (UP) Manila’s ethics board to approve similar trials for the UP-Philippine General Hospital before Monday.
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST), De la Peña said, had also sent samples of the derivatives of the coconut oil to a laboratory abroad that has a collection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. “We need to see if, in vitro trials, the materials we sent would have a strong effect and would weaken the [effectiveness] of the virus,” he said.
Experts are scrambling to find a vaccine for COVID-19, which has downed more than 3.19 million people in the world and killed over 226,000 of them.
276 new cases
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier offered a P50-million reward to Filipino scientists who would be able to develop a vaccine for the disease.
On Thursday, the Department of Health (DOH) reported 276 new coronavirus cases, raising the total to 8,488. It said 20 more patients had recovered, boosting the number of survivors to 1,043. But 10 more patients had died, bringing the toll to 568.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said coronavirus cases would rise in coming days as the DOH expanded its testing capacity.“We are doing expanded testing already in different areas of the country and we expect the numbers to increase because we detect more cases,” Vergeire said in an online briefing.
Currently, the DOH has testing capacity of 6,300 tests a day.
It had aimed to raise that capacity to 8,000 by April 30, but failed. Vergeire, however, said the DOH would press to meet that target. —WITH A REPORT FROM TINA G. SANTOS
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