The results of the study with virgin coconut oil (VCO) at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) showed that hospitalized patients with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) did not benefit significantly from VCO as an adjunct therapy.
The results of the clinical VCO study at the PGH were presented by Dr. Fresthel Monica Climacosa, one of six investigators for clinical trials in the VCO study, which included symptomatic and asymptomatic adult COVID-19 patients on PGH.
“In summary, our clinical study with hospitalized patients has shown no significant benefit in using VCO as add-on therapy for hospitalized COVID-19 patients,” she said during the webinar titled “Repurposing Natural Resources for COVID-19,” published by. The Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) was initiated on Thursday, November 25th, as part of this year’s National Science and Technology Week (NSTW).
“Exploratory studies of the dosage regimen, type of VCO formulation, including timing of administration may be needed to determine the role of VCO in treating viral infections such as COVID-19,” she added.
The team led by Dr. Marissa M. Alejandria of the National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) of the University of the Philippines-Manila conducted an open, randomized controlled trial of 77 hospitalized adult COVID-19 patients. The enrolled study participants were randomized to the control group receiving standard treatment (SOC) only or the treatment group receiving VCO and SOC.
“In our study, we saw no significant benefit from VCO use in terms of length of hospital stay, time to symptom resolution, mortality, need for invasive ventilation, and negative virus conversion,” said Climacosa.
The dose of VCO administered to patients is 15 milliliters (ml) three times a day after meals for 14 days, administered orally or via a gastric tube.
“We tried to do a subgroup analysis where we grouped the asymptomatic, mild and moderate patients and grouped the severe and critical patients as a severe group, but this subgroup analysis also showed no difference in length of hospital stay,” said Climacosa.
“We further subdivide our patients according to the severity of the disease and yet we could not find any statistical difference between the study arms in terms of length of stay,” she added.
Investigators’ investigators also found that treating VCO did not appear to change the duration of symptoms associated with COVID-19.
“For all symptoms combined, the resolution takes 6.79 days for the treatment group and 6.73 days for the control group. This is not statistically significant, ”said Climacosa.
She found that there was also no significant difference between the two groups in the time at which COVID-19-related symptoms such as fever, cold, cough, difficulty breathing, weakness, loss of taste, anosmia, loss of appetite, subsided between the two groups.
The project team also found that when analyzed per protocol, there was no significant difference in length of hospital stay and time to symptom resolution.
Climacosa found that four study participants experienced “unbearable” side effects such as diarrhea and abdominal pain, which “led to the discontinuation of VCO administration”.
“Nobody in the VCO group needed an admission to the intensive care unit or invasive ventilation during our 14-day monitoring, compared to the control group where one patient had to be admitted to the intensive care unit and three patients needed invasive ventilation. But even these are not statistically significant, ”she said.
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