DOST-PCHRD, MDH to test use of melatonin against COVID-19-induced Pneumonia

Noting how the severity of COVID-19 cases appear to significantly increase once pneumonia sets in, the Manila Doctors Hospital (MDH), with support from the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) will conduct the project: “Melatonin as Adjuvant treatment for COVID-19 in Patients Requiring hospitalization (MAC19 PRO): A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial (RCT).


Known as a commonly available and inexpensive sleep-aid supplement, melatonin is also known for its anti-inflammation, anti-oxidation and immune-enhancing effects which may help alleviate acute respiratory distress caused by viral infections such as COVID-19.


To support the current efforts against the pandemic, the study seeks to probe whether administering high doses of melatonin (hdM) will lessen the need for intubation or ventilation support of hospitalized COVID-19 patients and ultimately improve the survival rate against the infection. The study will be the first RCT worldwide which will explore the effectiveness and safety of using hdM as adjuvant therapy on top of standard therapy in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 pneumonia. Adjuvant therapy is used in addition to primary or main treatment of diseases. Examples of adjuvant therapy are chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, among others.


“We are aiming to build on the use of melatonin as a commonly available supplement to support our fight against COVID-19,” DOST-PCHRD Executive Director Jaime Montoya says. “If the project proves to be successful, we may be able to de-escalate COVID-19 cases better, and possibly reduce the mortality rate of the infection.”


The pilot study done for the project has also been accepted for publication in the Melatonin Research Journal, which observed that patients given with hdM showed faster clinical improvement. The article will be released next month.


With support from DOST-PCHRD, the project will run for four months in selected hospitals in Metro Manila and Cebu City.


As the world continues to race to find a vaccine or a cure against COVID-19, hospitals across countries currently anchor the effective management of the infection on supportive and empirical treatments. In the situation report published May 2020, WHO highlights that almost 86.7% of cases recorded in the Philippines are mild.  Despite the low mortality rate, there are cases that lead to respiratory failure, septic shock, or even death especially for identified high-risk groups or the immunocompromised.