FAIR COMMENT | Alito L. Malinao
Over the weekend I had coffee with my good friend and family physician Dr. Oscar Calim and he confided to me an interesting idea that has been ignored by health authorities.
According to Dr. Calim, he wrote a letter to Health Secretary Francisco Duque suggesting that the government explore the possibility of providing virgin coconut oil (VCO) to all health centers in the country to help our countrymen fight against the coronavirus.
In his letter he explained that VCO has been proven scientifically to have preventive qualities against the virus. And it is cheap and readily available. He said he has been taking VCO for the past years and is confident that his immune system is strong and that he does not need the vaccine that is being manufactured by Western countries.
Dr. Calim, who retired as medical officer of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), never got a reply. This is unfortunate since Dr. Calim’s idea is workable and beneficial not just in protecting our people from the plague but also in helping our coconut farmers, those who have never been included in our vaccination rollout.
As per advice of Dr. Calim I am now taking daily a 500 mg VCO capsule which costs only P11 per capsule.
Indeed, it is almost criminal not to at least study Dr. Calim’s proposal since scientific research conducted by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has proven the medical qualities of VCO.
A study conducted by DOST shows that VCO taken as a food supplement can reduce symptoms among probable and suspect COVID-19 cases.
According to DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña, their study shows that symptoms such as cough, colds, body ache, headache, loss of taste and smell, and fever in the group where patients were given VCO doses “significantly declined” at the second day, and no symptoms were observed from them at Day 18.
The study involved 57 patients at two isolation facilities in Santa Rosa, Laguna, who underwent a 28-day intervention period starting in August. Of the volunteer participants, 29 patients were assigned to be given standardized meals mixed with VCO, while the other 28 became the control group and received no VCO doses.
According to Dela Peña, immediate effects of the VCO were observed among five of the 29 patients in the VCO group, who experienced decreasing signs and symptoms of COVID-19 as early as Day 2, compared with only one patient from the control group who showed similar improvement. By Day 18, all of the patients at the VCO group experienced no more symptoms.
The DOST study was conducted in August and eight months later the DOH is yet to issue any reaction either to endorse or junk the study, just as it has ignored the suggestion of Dr. Calim.
The nationwide distribution of VCO, which should be given free through our public health centers, would entail a lot of money. But it can be sourced from the estimated P76 billion coconut levy funds now deposited in various banks.
Of course, this would need an act of Congress and we are calling on our legislators to consider this idea that will not only prevent the spread of the virus but also help our coconut farmers improve their lives. After all the coconut levy fund is theirs and it is about time to give it back to them.