MANILA — Filipinos will have to wait several more months to find out if virgin coconut oil and the anti-flu drug Avigan are indeed effective against COVID-19, the Department of Health said on Friday.
“Ang virgin coconut oil mayroon siyang 2 trials na isinasagawa,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.
(For virgin coconut oil, there are 2 trials being done.)
She said the first one already started on May 1 in the town of Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
“Nag-umpisa May 1, matatapos December 31. Eight months 'yung clinical trial. Titingnan ang beneficial effects ng virgin coconut oil sa mga suspect and probable COVID-19 na naka-quarantine sa kanilang center o ospital,” she said.
(It started on May 1 and will end on December 18. The clinical trial will be for 8 months. They will see if virgin coconut oil has any beneficial effects for suspect and probable COVID-19 cases quarantined in their center or hospital.)
The health official said 40 patients from the Sta. Rosa Community Hospital are already enrolled and more are expected. There will also be additional participants from the Medical City Sta. Rosa.
On the other hand, the hospital-based arm of the study started on June 1 and will end on May 31, 2021.
“Twelve months ang period nitong clinical trial sa PGH (Philippine General Hospital) na VCO. Ito 'yung titingnan 'yung safety and efficacy of virgin coconut oil as an adjunctive (supplement) therapy for COVID-19,” Vergeire said.
(The clinical trial for VCO in PGH will take 12 months. This is to check for the safety and efficacy of virgin coconut oil as an adjunctive therapy for COVID-19.)
Filipino scientists believe that coconut oil’s anti-viral properties can help COVID-19 patients. The study received funding from the Department of Science and technology.
As for the anti-flu drug Avigan from Japan, Vergeire said the study would take 9 months.
Clinical trials were supposed to start in August but it was delayed due to pending ethical review of participating hospitals.
“We target to start this September. We are just now waiting for pending documents for processing,” the health official said.
Among the documents pending are the clinical trial agreement and insurance policies for participants joining the trials.
Vergeire said they are also waiting for the database where all of the information from the study participants would be kept.
“By Monday ready na itong database na ito (this database will be ready) and hopefully the other documents as well so we can immediately start,” she said.