A recent article published in the Global Advances in Health and Medicine journal contains reports from China and South Korea that demonstrate the successful use of vitamin C in the prevention and treatment of coronavirus infection. The authors argue that, given the unprecedented scale and scope of the coronavirus pandemic, it is necessary to take a hard look at medical interventions as they are evolving. Describing vitamin C as low-cost and nontoxic, they say the nutrient should be considered as an important option in light of the growing impact the virus is having on public health and the global economy.
In terms of the potential role that widespread use of vitamin C could play in controlling the pandemic, one anecdotal story contained in the article is particularly instructive. The authors describe how a family of 6 adults in Wuhan, China, spent considerable time taking care of their eldest member who, having several preexisting health problems, became infected with the coronavirus. During their caregiving, each of the 6 adults took between 3 and 10 grams per day of supplementary vitamin C with their food, in two divided doses. When the ill family member entered intensive care and was placed on a mechanical respirator, her physicians agreed to administer intravenous vitamin C in addition to supportive therapy. Unlike more than half of patients in her condition in Wuhan in February 2020, the lady recovered. Moreover, not a single one of her 6 family members who had been exposed to the virus fell sick with it.
The article also summarizes the report of a medical director from the Wuhan Tongji Hospital in China, which describes how high-dose vitamin C has achieved good results in treating severe new coronaviral pneumonia at the facility. The medical director emphasizes that not only can high-dose vitamin C improve antiviral levels, but more importantly it can also prevent and treat acute lung injury and acute respiratory distress.
The experiences of Hyoungjoo Shin M.D., a physician from South Korea, are also summarized in the article. Reporting in March 2020, Hyoungjoo Shin states that at his hospital all inpatients and staff members have been using vitamin C supplements. People with mild fever, headaches, and coughs were given 30 grams of vitamin C intravenously. Some got better after about 2 days, and most saw their symptoms go away after a single injection of the nutrient.
The article further describes how, in March 2020, high-dose intravenous vitamin C was successfully used to treat 50 moderate to severe coronavirus patients in Shanghai, China. The doses used ranged from 2 grams to 10 grams per day and were given over a period of 8 to 10 hours for 5 to 7 days. In these patients, their oxygenation index improved in real time and all were discharged from intensive care and released from the hospital.
Inevitably, of course, some critics will no doubt dismiss these reports on the grounds they are anecdotal. To their credit, therefore, the article authors say they do not dispute that the gold standard for clinical evidence remains the randomized controlled trial, a study approach in which participants are randomly assigned to receive either the treatment or a placebo. They argue, however, that under the grave circumstances of an exponentially growing pandemic, it is critically important to devise innovative approaches to both prevent and treat the virus. In saying this, the authors point out that the history of medicine is replete with instances where well-drawn case reports have guided the creation of life-saving innovations.
For governments and health authorities to ignore successful case reports, especially when they are based on the use of a low-cost and non-toxic substance like vitamin C, makes no sense at all. But in the unprecedented situation of a global pandemic, it is surely irresponsible in the extreme.