By GENALYN KABILING
Samples of virgin coconut oil (VCO) will be sent to a university in Singapore this week for testing as potential antiviral agent against the new coronavirus, a Palace official said yesterday.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the National University of Singapore has agreed to determine the efficacy of VCO to combat the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“As to the efficacy of virgin coconut oil in combating COVID-19, a leading proponent – an academician in one of our top universities – is spearheading this initiative and the National University of Singapore has accepted to test VCO against COVID-19,” Nograles said during a Palace press briefing.
“We are now preparing sending samples of VCO for testing within the week,” he added.
Ateneo de Manila University professor emeritus Fabian Dayrit recently raised the potential use of coconut oil as a safe antiviral agent against the new coronavirus. The research paper was done alongside Dr. Mary Newport of Spring Hill Neonatolody Inc.
“What if there is a treatment candidate against the coronavirus that might already be available and whose safety is already established?” Dayrit and Newport wrote in a research articled posted on the Ateneo website.
They noted that lauric acid (C12) and monolaurin, its derivative, have been known for many years to have significant antiviral activity. “Coconut oil and its derivatives have been shown to be safe and effective antiviral compounds in both humans and animals,” the research paper read.
Dayrit and Newport have also proposed clinical studies among patients infected with the coronavirus given the scientific evidence for the antiviral activity of coconut oil, lauric acid, and its derivatives. “This treatment is affordable and virtually risk-free, and the potential benefits are enormous,” they said.
The new coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has continued to spread in several countries, including the Philippines. It has left more than 2,000 people and infected more than 78,000 globally.
To date, Nograles said 132 patients under investigation have been admitted to local hospitals. At least 474 patients have been discharged after testing negative for COVID-19.
“As of today, let me stress that there are now zero confirmed cases in our country, as two of the three initial confirmed cases have already recovered from the disease with one fatality,” Nograles said.
Nograles said the Department of Health remains on top of a government-wide effort to monitor, identify, and contain potential COVID-19 cases.
He said they hope to sustain the “success” in preventing local transmission of COVID-19.
The country has “more than enough” testing kits on hand to test potential patients in the coming weeks, according to Nograles.
“Be that as it may, the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) is working with a medical center overseas that has agreed to collaborate with our Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in the development and possible use of a diagnostic test for detecting antibodies to the COVID-19 virus,” he said.
“While purely for research purposes only, this testing procedure will enable us to more accurately determine past infections, as well as new or recent infections to COVID-19 from collected samples of PUIs,” he said.
Nograles noted that the GenAmplifyTM Rapid Test Diagnostic Kit being developed by Manila Healthtek Inc. is completing all the requirements for validation of the World Health Organization (WHO).
He said preliminary documents were submitted to Food and Drug Administration, while a technology presentation to the Advisory Group on COVID-19 headed by DoH was conducted last February 21.