By Robert Verkerk PhD [1] and Dr Damien Downing MBBS MRSB [2]
[1] Founder, executive and scientific director, ANH-Intl
[2] President, British Society for Ecological Medicine


During lockdown, frontline health workers are among the most exposed to SARS-Cov-2 responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic. Adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing both for presence of infection or antibodies following infection is critical. Governments, health authorities and supply chains are trying to address this, albeit often not fast enough.

In the meantime, the only tangible other means of defence for any person exposed to the virus, whether it’s a healthcare professional or a patient, is the human immune system.

This isn’t some kind of archaic system that plays second fiddle to not-yet-released high tech antiviral drugs or recombinant technology vaccines. It’s the system that works to keep us alive every day of every week – and the one responsible for eliminating virus from the body among the majority of those who become infected with SARS-CoV-2.

It’s neither scientifically rational nor ethical to deny treatment with long-established nutritional agents because there is no evidence from trials. It’s actually mendacious, because there is no evidence for anything working – it’s a new virus!

  • Find related articles, information and videos in our Covid Zone

So no surprise then that there weren’t any trials to show if a global lockdown would sufficiently slow or stop transmission. But let’s also not ignore the fact that the lockdowns were themselves initiated on the basis of mathematical models. Like all models, these are as good as the data fed into them. It’s of public interest (although you’d never know given the scarcity of media reporting on the subject) that there is emerging evidence that these relied on sometimes exaggerated or dubious data. Needs must, we’re told.

At the same time health authorities won’t offer any public health advice geared towards helping citizens to enhance their immune system function. More than that, social media platforms are banning scientifically and medically valid posts aimed at helping the public to improve their immune system function. In their wisdom, social media platforms have decided they will be arbiters of scientific matters about which they have no background or expertise. 

Selective publicity

Politicians and news channels were largely mute when the most senior scientist advising the White House in the US, Dr Anthony Fauci, suggested 6 days ago that the case fatality rate for Covid-19 might end up being on a par with a bout of severe seasonal influenza. His comments were made in a co-authored editorial in one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals, the New England Journal of Medicine. They’ve never shut down the world’s economies for flu, nor have they for tuberculosis, that causes on average over three times more deaths than influenza worldwide.

“Focus on protecting susceptible individuals”

They were also mute when one of the world’s most respected disease prevention doctors and scientists, Prof John Ioannidis from Stanford, warned of policy being driven by reliance on fake news, withdrawn papers, exaggerated pandemic estimates, case rate fatality and community spread. This misinformation, says, Prof Ioannidis, has driven decisions for the extreme measures we now face. He states:

Maintaining lockdowns for many months may have even worse consequences than an epidemic wave that runs an acute course. Focusing on protecting susceptible individuals may be preferable to maintaining country-wide lockdowns long-term.

When it comes to protecting the most susceptible, the deliberate suppression of potentially life-saving advice, even from doctors and researchers who have dedicated their lives to the field of nutritional medicine, is both scientifically negligent and immoral. Especially when there are cheap, low cost natural agents with undeniable evidence of both safety and efficacy for immune support readily available to the public.

The media have saturated the airwaves telling the masses about trials that are ongoing with various antiviral drugs – or repurposed drugs, such as the anti-malarials, chloroquine and hydrochloroquine.

Selective uptake

But there’s been silence from both the media and most health authorities on a nutrient as accessible as vitamin C, despite abundant evidence of its capacity to treat and shorten periods of infection with a wide range of pathogens, including respiratory viruses. This is among the reasons China and the USA have been trialling vitamin C (see below) for Covid-19. It’s also why the government of the Philippines is handing vitamin C out to schoolchildren.  

With 40 years of clinical experience using nutritional and environmental medicine, and as President of the British Society of Ecological Medicine, I, Damien, have deep concerns over the absence of public health advice from UK and other health authorities on nutrient-based prevention and treatment strategies. I have addressed my concerns to Dr Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet journal, on Facebook and Twitter.  

I will briefly set out the basis of the case, especially for vitamin C.

Why vitamin C can save lives

There isn’t a virus for which vitamin C hasn’t worked. Personally, I would stake my life on it delivering benefit significantly beyond not taking it – well, I suppose I am, carrying on working right now.

Dr Damien Downing MBBS MRSB

Intravenous vitamin C is already being employed in China against Covid-19. I get regular updates because I am part of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board to the International Intravenous Vitamin C China Epidemic Medical Support Team. Its director is Richard Z. Cheng, MD, PhD; associate director is Hong Zhang, PhD. Among other team members are Qi Chen, PhD (Associate Professor, Kansas University Medical School); Jeanne Drisko, MD (Professor, University of Kansas Medical School); Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD; and Atsuo Yanagisawa, MD, PhD. (Professor, Kyorin University, Tokyo). To read the treatment protocol information in English: (protocol in Chinese).

Direct report from China

Dr Richard Cheng, also Orthomolecular Medicine News Service (OMNS) Chinese edition editor, is issuing regular reports from China via his YouTube channel. This has included information about the first approved study using 12,000 to 24,000 mg/day of intravenous (IV) vitamin C. In his report, based on emerging evidence from the trial, Dr Cheng made a public call for immediate use of vitamin C for prevention of coronavirus (Covid-19).

A second clinical trial of intravenous vitamin C was announced in China on 13 February 2020. In relation to this second study, Dr Cheng said:

"They plan to give 6,000 mg/day and 12,000 mg/day per day for moderate and severe cases. We are also communicating with other hospitals about starting more intravenous vitamin C clinical studies. We would like to see oral vitamin C included in these studies, as the oral forms can be applied to more patients and at home."

Additional information can be found on the OMNS website.

On 21 February 2020, announcement was made of a third research trial now approved for IV vitamin C for Covid-19.

Dr. Cheng commented: "Vitamin C is very promising for prevention, and especially important to treat dying patients when there is no better treatment. Over 2,000 people have died of the Covid-19 outbreak and yet I have not seen or heard large dose intravenous vitamin C being used in any of the cases. The current sole focus on vaccine and specific antiviral drugs for epidemics is misplaced."

"Early and sufficiently large doses of intravenous vitamin C are critical. Vitamin C is not only a prototypical antioxidant, but also involved in virus killing and prevention of viral replication. The significance of large dose intravenous vitamin C is not just at antiviral level. It is acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) that kills most people from coronaviral pandemics (SARS, MERS and now NCP). ARDS is a common final pathway leading to death."

"We therefore call for a worldwide discussion and debate on this topic."

Let’s be clear what the data emerging from China and elsewhere shows; vitamin C, if used appropriately both orally and intravenously, depending on the condition of the individual, will save lives in this pandemic. Will it save yours? No idea, sorry. This kind of research is done on populations; you don't get to speak to individuals. It won’t stop you spreading the virus either, so far as we know – and there’s a lot we still don’t know about it.

Low cost vitamin and mineral immune enhancement protocol

Based on available evidence and decades of clinical experience, I, Damien, also support the following minimum recommendations for inexpensive supplemental intakes for adults. For children, dosages can be reduced proportionally by weight relative to an adult’s body weight (based on a 60 kg adult):

  • Vitamin C: 3,000 milligrams (mg) (3 grams) (or more) daily, in divided doses. You might find it useful to add 5,000 milligrams (5 grams) of pure ascorbic acid powder to 1 to 1.5 litres of water and drink it throughout the day
  • Vitamin D3: 2,000 International Units (IU) (50 micrograms) daily. Start with 5,000 IU (125 micrograms)/day for two weeks, then you can reduce to 2,000 IU/d)
  • Magnesium: 400 mg daily (in citrate, malate, amino acid chelate, or chloride form)
  • Zinc: 20 milligrams (mg) daily (e.g. in citrate, amino acid chelate, gluconate forms), away from cereals and other grains to avoid being bound (and so less absorbed) by phytate
  • Selenium: 100 micrograms (mcg) (e.g. in methionine or yeast forms) daily

Time for C-action

Some of these nutrients are in increasingly short supply, including vitamin C. The hope is this is down to their widespread consumption by the public who are taking action to protect themselves. Global supply chains may be slow to respond to increased demand and it’s imperative that individual countries increase their manufacturing capacity to meet the need.

We are working on various strategies aimed at ensuring governments and health authorities publicise emerging data from trials involving nutrients like vitamin C, that they provide public health advice on nutrient intakes for immune support, and they switch on additional manufacturing capacity locally.

We will keep you posted on these campaigns and how you might be able to support them.

Thank you.