New York hospitals treating coronavirus patients with vitamin C
By Lorena Mongelli and Bruce GoldingMarch 24, 2020 | 5:04pm | Updated
Seriously sick coronavirus patients in New York state’s largest hospital system are being given massive doses of vitamin C — based on promising reports that it’s helped people in hard-hit China, The Post has learned.
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.
Identical amounts of the powerful antioxidant are then readministered three or four times a day, he said.
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.
The regimen is based on experimental treatments administered to people with the coronavirus in Shanghai, China, Weber said.
“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.”
A spokesman for Northwell — which operates 23 hospitals, including Lenox Hill Hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side — said vitamin C was being “widely used” as a coronavirus treatment throughout the system, but noted that medication protocols varied from patient to patient.
“As the clinician decides,” spokesman Jason Molinet said.
About 700 patients are being treated for coronavirus across the hospital network, Molinet said, 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, 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 has 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 on the effectiveness of intravenous vitamin C on coronavirus patients began Feb. 14 at Zhongnan Hospital in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the pandemic.
pronounced as (hye drox ee klor’ oh kwin)
Why is this medication prescribed?
Hydroxychloroquine is in a class of drugs called antimalarials. It is used to prevent and treat
acute attacks of malaria. It is also used to treat discoid or systemic lupus erythematosus and
rheumatoid arthritis in patients whose symptoms have not improved with other treatments.
This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more
Hydroxychloroquine can be taken with a glass of milk or a meal to decrease nausea. Follow the
directions on your prescription label carefully.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next
dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double
dose to make up for a missed one.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Hydroxychloroquine may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these
symptoms are severe or do not go away:
loss of appetite
If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
reading or seeing difficulties (words, letters, or parts of objects missing)
sensitivity to light
blurred distance vision
seeing light flashes or streaks
ringing in ears
bleeding or bruising of the skin
bleaching or loss of hair
mood or mental changes
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children.
Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and
other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the
toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back
program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn
about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA’s Safe Disposal of Medicines website
for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such
as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-
resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning,
always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up
and away and out of their sight and reach.
In case of emergency/overdose:
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also
available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help [https://www.poisonhelp.org/help] . If the
victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can’t be awakened, immediately
call emergency services at 911.
What other information should I know?
Children can be especially sensitive to an overdose, so keep the medication out of the reach of
children. Children should not take hydroxychloroquine for long-term therapy.
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor may order certain lab
tests to check your response to hydroxychloroquine.
If you are taking hydroxychloroquine for a long period of time, your doctor will recommend
frequent eye exams. It is very important that you keep these appointments. Hydroxychloroquine
can cause serious vision problems. If you experience any changes in vision, stop taking
hydroxychloroquine and call your doctor immediately.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about
refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-
the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if
you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of
French study finds anti-malarial and antibiotic combo could reduce COVID-19 duration
A new study whose results were published in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents has found early evidence that the combination of hydroxychloroquine, a popular anti-malaria drug known under the trade name Plaqenuil, and antibiotic azithromycin (aka Zithromax or Azithrocin) could be especially effective in treating the COVID-19 coronavirus and reducing the duration of the virus in patients.
The researchers performed a study on 30 confirmed COVID-19 patients, treating each with either hydroxychloroquine on its own, a combination of the medicine with the antibiotic, as well as a control group that received neither. The study was conducted after reports from treatment of Chinese patients indicated that this particular combo had efficacy in shortening the duration of infection in patients.
The patient mix included in the study included six who showed no symptoms whatsoever, as well as 22 who had symptoms in their upper respiratory tract (things like sneezing, headaches and sore throats, and eight who showed lower respiratory tract symptoms (mostly coughing). 20 of the 30 participants in the study received treatment, and the results showed that while hydroxycholoroquine was effective on its own as a treatment, when combined with azithromycin it was even more effective, and by a significant margin.
These results represent a limited study with a small number of patients, but they are promising, especially when combined with earlier reports from patients in China with the same treatment options. Researchers globally are testing a number of potential treatments, including a range of drugs used previously in the efforts to combat Ebola, SARS, HIV and other global outbreaks.
There are no confirmed effective treatments specifically for COVID-19 to date, but regulators and medical researchers everywhere are working hard to get through the process of testing and approvals in search of something that can at least reduce the duration or severity of symptoms in patents. Vaccine development is also underway, but any approved and effective COVID-19 vaccine is at least 12-18 months away, even with resources redirected towards developing one as fast as is safety possible.