Hospitals in New York have been treating coronavirus patients with vitamin C and say patients receiving the treatment did "significantly better" than those who were not given it.
Patients are given extremely high dosages of the vitamin as soon as they are brought to hospital and then continue to receive the high dosages three to four times a day.
Dr Andrew G. Weber, a pulmonologist and critical-care specialist affiliated with two Northwell Health facilities on Long Island, said his intensive care patients with the coronavirus immediately receive 1,500 milligrams of intravenous vitamin C.
They then continue on the same dosage when it is re-administered.
The regimen is based on experimental treatments administered to coronavirus patients in Shanghai, China, but doctors say it's really working.
Each dose is more than 16 times the National Institutes of Health’s daily recommended dietary allowance of vitamin C, which is just 90 milligrams for adult men and 75 milligrams for adult women.
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organisation say the only way to minimise the chances of contracting the virus is to take preventative steps against infection.
“The patients who received vitamin C did significantly better than those who did not get vitamin C,” Dr Weber said.
“It helps a tremendous amount, but it is not highlighted because it’s not a sexy drug.”
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A spokesman for Northwell — which operates 23 hospitals, including Lenox Hill Hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side — said that vitamin C was being “widely used” as a coronavirus treatment throughout the system, but noted that medication protocols varied from patient to patient.
Spokesman Jason Molinet said about 700 patients are being treated for coronavirus across the hospital network, but it’s unclear how many are getting the vitamin C treatment.
The vitamin C is administered in addition to such medicines as the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, the antibiotic azithromycin, various biologics and blood thinners, Dr Weber said.
As of Tuesday, New York hospitals have federal permission to give a cocktail of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin to desperately ill patients on a “compassionate care” basis.
President Trump tweeted that the unproven combination therapy has “a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine”.
Weber, 34, said vitamin C levels in coronavirus patients drop dramatically when they suffer sepsis, an inflammatory response that occurs when their bodies overreact to the infection.
“It makes all the sense in the world to try and maintain this level of vitamin C,” he said.
A clinical trial into the effectiveness of intravenous vitamin C on coronavirus patients began on February 14 at Zhongnan Hospital in Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the pandemic.
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