A major new international campaign is being launched to promote the widespread use of vitamin C wherever there is a raised risk of COVID-19 infection, as well as an additional treatment for those seriously infected.
The launch of vitaminC4covid.com follows the publication of a major review of over 100 trials of the vitamin and the virus, which suggests that Vitamin C could reduce symptoms and improve outcomes of those infected with COVID-19. The authors include several senior experts in intensive care.
Already 20 medical and nutritional organisations from 49 countries worldwide are supporting the campaign, and over 5,000 doctors, nutritionists, health scientists and members of the public have also signed up to support vitaminC4covid.com.
The scientific review published in Nutrients, an open access peer-reviewed journal of human nutrition, supports the use of vitamin C in relation to COVID, but notes that it is not currently widely recommended by health services or doctors.
“This is a tragedy”, says campaign director and nutrition expert Patrick Holford. “Vitamin C can reduce the number of people getting severely infected and dramatically reduce the risk of death in those critically ill in hospitals.
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“It is safer than water, inexpensive and widely available. The appropriate use of vitamin C as early as possible in infection, and in high intravenous doses in ICUs would potentially be a game-changer.
“At the moment, people who could avoid catching it, or walk out of intensive care, are dying totally unnecessarily. No-one needs to die who doesn’t already have an end-stage disease.”
The campaign is calling for widespread vitamin C testing. By using a simple, inexpensive, urine dip stick, those in vulnerable groups such as care home residents, who account for an estimated 48 percent of deaths, could be tested quickly and cheaply, and high dose vitamin C administered if needed.
According to the UK government’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey, 4 percent of the population – that is 480,000 people – have blood levels of vitamin C that are so low they are defined as deficient and comparable to the levels found in people with scurvy. One study found that almost half of those living in care homes are deficient.
This could be because insufficient Vitamin C is being supplied in their diets, and because chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart disease can deplete the body’s supply of Vitamin C.
“On top of that viral infections rapidly deplete vitamin C stores” says Patrick Holford. You are not likely to survive an acute infection, such as COVID-19, if you are deficient to start with. And you may be left with long-term symptoms if you are lucky enough to survive.”
VitaminC4covid.com will be raising funds to investigate the vitamin C status in care homes and to establish how much older, more vulnerable people need to reduce their risk. The campaign is also seeking funds to run the definitive trial on vitamin C and infections, including COVID, for reducing severity and duration of symptoms.
“There is so much more we could do”, says Holford. “China is already giving high dose vitamin C to hospitalised patients and intravenous vitamin C to the critically ill. They shipped in 50 million 1gram doses into Wuhan on February 2nd and effectively wiped-out critical cases within a couple of months.”
VitaminC4Covid.com says that there are currently 45 trials registered using vitamin C around the world, and claims that the evidence is already considerably more substantial than that for vitamin D, another key COVID -19 defence nutrient which the UK government is planning to supply for free.
The aim of the campaign is to get vitamin C taken seriously in COVID-19 treatment, by governments, healthcare systems and individuals around the world. vitaminC4covid.com is calling for the following changes:
- The government and its public health and nutrition agencies to thoroughly assess the evidence and fund studies of this inexpensive and safe nutrient.
- The government, NHS, health care and medical associations to recommend to all citizens to supplement vitamin C during this viral epidemic, based on the available evidence.
- Content on ‘vitamin C for COVID-19 or corona’ no longer being classified as false information in both digital, broadcast and print media.
- GPs, doctors and nutrition practitioners to be allowed and actively encouraged to recommend vitamin C supplementation for anyone with cold symptoms or coronavirus infection to reduce duration and severity of symptoms as an allowable health claim.
- All COVID-19 patients to be tested for vitamin C status and treated accordingly.
- Vitamin C to be given to all COVID-19 patients as early as possible on hospital admission.
- Intravenous vitamin C to be trialled as a standard adjunctive treatment for all critical COVID patients in Intensive Care Units.
“There is no doubt vitamin C can play an important role in tackling this pandemic, and we are calling on the government and healthcare practitioners to use all the available tools in our arsenal to help people survive COVID-19” says Patrick Holford.
In April 2020, Dr Andrew Weber, a pulmonologist and critical-care specialist in Long Island, said he had been giving his intensive care coronavirus patients 1,500 milligrams of intravenous vitamin C. Identical amounts of the dosage were then re-administered three or four times a day, he told the New York Post.
“The patients who received vitamin C did significantly better than those who did not get vitamin C,” he said.
“It helps a tremendous amount, but it is not highlighted because it’s not a sexy drug.”
But dietician Harriet Smith responded: “Vitamin C does play an important role in immunity. A great example of this is in sailors who developed scurvy due to vitamin C deficiencies. However, there’s some very limited evidence that vitamin C supplements may reduce severity and duration of common colds, but only by approximately half a day.
“Obviously, coronavirus and common colds are very different viruses, so the results don’t apply to coronavirus.”
She refuted claims that large doses of vitamin C could make a difference, adding: “The RNI [Reference Nutrient Intake] is 40 milligrams a day, which you can easily get from eating one large orange or a kiwi fruit. Vitamin C is water-soluble, so consuming more than the body needs will result in it being excreted in urine.”
Find out more about the campaign to raise awareness of the potential of Vitamin C in the treatment of COVID-19 at www.vitaminC4covid.com.