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False claim: Vitamin C cures the new coronavirus

Posts on social media claim that Vitamin C alone is an effective cure or treatment of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. Examples – including some referring to the recovery of an elderly lady in China, and others promoting fruits such as oranges that are high in Vitamin C - can be seen here , here , here , and here .

Vitamin C, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “plays an important role in immune function” (here).

However, it is false to suggest that Vitamin C is a widely approved treatment or cure for COVID-19. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “No specific treatment for COVID-19 is currently FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approved” ( here ).

A World Health Organization (WHO) document prescribes several methods for trained healthcare professionals to use in managing severe cases of COVID-19 ( bit.ly/2VxMu9B ). These include oxygen therapy and monitoring, the treatment of co-infections with empiric antimicrobials, endotracheal intubation in cases of acute respiratory distress syndrome, and resuscitation from septic shock using crystalloid fluid. As of mid-April, the guide does not mention use of Vitamin C.

Guidelines on inpatient management from the Infectious Diseases Society of America can be found here . These also do not mention treatment with vitamins.

As reported by Newsweek, “patients testing positive with COVID-19 were in some cases being treated with large doses of vitamin C” in the intensive care units of certain New York hospitals ( here ). However, the article said, “the effectiveness of intravenous vitamin C as a treatment for—or buffer against—COVID-19 is not established with solid clinical evidence.”

Healthline reports, “No supplement will cure or prevent disease […] it’s especially important to understand that no supplement, diet, or other lifestyle modification other than physical distancing, also known as social distancing, and proper hygiene practices can protect you from COVID-19.” ( here )

There is currently a clinical trial ( here ) under way in Wuhan, China to determine the potential benefit of Vitamin C on patients with COVID-19, but results have not yet been published.

On March 28, The South China Morning Post reported a Wuhan doctor saying: “We still don’t know whether this helps [their] recovery – this needs a lot of research” when asked about efforts to treat severely ill patients with intravenous Vitamin C, along with other medicines ( here ).

While the immune-boosting properties of Vitamin C might help people’s bodies respond to infections and illness, to claim Vitamin C alone can cure or treat COVID-19 is medically unfounded. Studies on its effect on respiratory infections similar to COVID-19 are still under way.

VERDICT:

False: Although some COVID-19 patients are reported to have been given large doses of Vitamin C, it is not a proven treatment or cure for the disease

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact checking work  here .

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