By Rita dela Cruz, DA-StratComms
The Department of Agriculture through the Philippine Coconut Authority (DA-PCA) is partnering with other agencies to study the curative properties of virgin coconut oil (VCO) on patients infected with the COVID-19.
“This is indeed good news for us, a silver lining in the scientific community. This inter-agency effort is reflective of the ‘Bayanihan to Heal as One Act’ the success of which will not only help our Covid-19 patients, but also benefit our marginal coconut farmers,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
PCA administrator Benjamin Madrigal, Jr. said previous researches have shown that VCO has high potency anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal qualities.
“Initial research results show that the lauric acid in VCO helps fight the corona virus in three ways, as it: disintegrates the virus membrane; inhibits virus maturation; and prevents binding of viral proteins to the host cell membrane,” said Madrigal.
The ongoing study, with an initial P5-million funding, is being conducted by the DA-PCA in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI), Philippine Center for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), and DOST Region 4A, the Department of Health (DOH), University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH), and the team of Professor Fabian Antonio Dayrit of Ateneo de Manila University.
The two-pronged study involves, first, a community-based modified clinical study on the use of VCO, involving persons under investigation for Covid-19 infection who exhibit symptoms of the disease. The tests are being conducted by the FNRI with DOST-4A, Santa Rosa City government, in Laguna, and Medical City South Luzon.
Second, the VCO is used as a supplement to the daily treatment regimen — in addition to the pharmaceutical drugs being assessed in clinical trials — of Covid-19 positive patients at PGH.
“To ensure the success of said research studies, the PCA is providing all the quality VCO that has passed stringent laboratory analysis for its physio-chemical, microbial and heavy metal content,” said Madrigal, noting that the agency shared P1.4 million in the inter-agency initiative.
The PCA will also support all the clinical laboratory tests in the community-based studies to determine the anti-viral and immune system boosting qualities of VCO.
“With this favorable development, the demand for VCO has started to pick up with the on-going confirmatory clinical research at UP-PGH and at the community quarantine facility in Sta. Rosa, Laguna,” Madrigal said.
In all, Secretary Dar commended and urged the PCA to institute innovative strategies to further increase the production of quality VCO nationwide, and thus provide coconut farmers a stable market and steady income.