There are many fans of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) who think that vitamin C is the answer to COVID (and many other ailments). Here, for instance, is a press release from Damien Downing (we already encountered him in my last post):
Vitamin C and COVID-19 Coronavirus
by Damien Downing, MBBS, MRSB and Gert Schuitemaker, PhD
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, Feb 28, 2020
There is only one existing treatment for the new coronavirus: vitamin C.
Vitamin C supports your immune system. Vitamin C helps to kill the virus and reduces the symptoms of infection. It’s not a COVID “cure,” but nothing is. It might just save your life, though, and will definitely reduce the severity of the infection.
If someone tells you it’s not proven, consider two things:
- Nothing is proven to work against COVID-19, because it is a new virus.
- Vitamin C has worked against every single virus including influenzas, pneumonia, and even poliomyelitis.
What to do
If you do nothing else, start taking vitamin C right away; at least 3 grams a day, spread right across the day. That’s a 1,000 milligram capsule every 8 hours, or a level teaspoon of powder dissolved in a pint or so of water, drank all through the day.
If you’re smart and motivated, do all the other things recommended in our previous release Vitamin C Protects Against Coronavirus (http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v16n04.shtml)
When and if you catch a bug that might be COVID-19, simply increase your vitamin C intake: a rounded teaspoon (that’s 4 to 5 grams) in water (which helps to keep you hydrated) every 3 or 4 hours. And keep on taking it.
Do you consult a doctor? Do you self-isolate? Yes and yes. Of course you do; that’s your duty to others.
Vitamin C and the other measures are what you do for yourself…
Damien Downing’s press release did not age all that well, I fear. The evidence to support his claims is not just flimsy, it is negative. Let me show you the most recent (October 2021) systematic review of the subject:
Background and aims: Vitamin C has been used as an anti-oxidant in various diseases including viral illnesses like coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Methods: Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCT) investigating the role of vitamin C supplementation in COVID-19 was carried out.
Results: Total 6 RCTs including n = 572 patients were included. Vitamin C treatment didn’t reduce mortality (RR 0.73, 95% CI 0.42 to 1.27; I2 = 0%; P = 0.27), ICU length of stay [SMD 0.29, 95% CI -0.05 to 0.63; I2 = 0%; P = 0.09), hospital length of stay (SMD -0.23, 95% CI -1.04 to 0.58; I2 = 92%; P = 0.57) and need for invasive mechanical ventilation (Risk Ratio 0.93, 95% CI 0.61 to 1.44; I2 = 0%; P = 0.76). Further sub-group analysis based on severity of illness (severe vs. non-severe), route of administration (IV vs. oral) and dose (high vs. low) failed to show any observable benefits.
Conclusion: No significant benefit noted with vitamin C administration in COVID-19. Well-designed RCTs with standardized control group needed on this aspect.
What does that tell us?
I think it suggests three things:
- Damien Downing might be suffering from proctophasia,
- we would be ill-advised to follow the advice of such pseudo-experts,
- vitamin C is not the solution to COVID-19 infections.