March 11 2020

I recently learned about a published case report from the United States in 2017 on the use of intravenous vitamin C involved in the treatment of virus-induced acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) similar to what the Coronavirus can do in select groups (see reference below). When reading the details of this case I was reminded about my home roots and the poor unfortunate people of Italy with the current COVID-19 outbreak and the lives lost. Our hearts go out to them in support.

In particular, this case involved a 20-year-old, previously healthy, female who contracted respiratory enterovirus/rhinovirus infection in central Italy while on an 8-day spring break from college. During a return flight to the United States, she developed increasing shortness of breath and low blood oxygen that rapidly developed into acute lung injury that led to acute respiratory distress syndrome. When hospitalized and support with mechanical ventilation failed, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) was initiated. ECMO can be used in late-stage respiratory failure to try and oxygenate the blood using a machine outside the body. Twelve hours after beginning ECMO, high dose intravenous vitamin C began and administered every 6 hours, 24 hours per day. The patient’s recovery was rapid. ECMO and mechanical ventilation were discontinued by day-7 and the patient rapidly recovered with no long-term ARDS after-effects. She was discharged home 12 days following hospitalization, requiring no oxygen therapy. Follow-up exam 1 month after the patient’s initial hospitalization revealed her to have completely recovered. Again no complications.

While this is a single case report and there can be levels of criticism, it also involved a younger patient with no known health conditions vs. a senior that typically has other diseases, a different virus than the Coronavirus, it nonetheless was used to treat a similar presentation of a virus-related acute respiratory infection that could have been deadly. China has been public about integrating intravenous vitamin C in the treatment of COVID-19 acute respiratory infection that I have discussed in a previous article. It would be unfortunate to later learn that something as simple as vitamin C given by intravenous injection may have helped to offset some of the deaths or complications reported in the media.   I hope Italy will be as pro-active as some of the centres in China in taking bold measures in helping out their citizens and explore vitamin C. In my opinion, intravenous vitamin C should be given a chance in the evolving experiment of treating COVID-19 and the acute respiratory problems that may occur.