L E T T E R Open Access
A new clinical trial to test high-dose
vitamin C in patients with COVID-19
Anitra C. Carr
With the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak
now spreading across the world, people are seeking ways
in which to potentially protect themselves from the virus
or to alleviate its effects once caught. One such means that
is being touted online and in the media is vitamin C.
Vitamin C is best known for its antioxidant properties,
being able to scavenge damaging reactive oxygen species,
thus protecting the body’s cells and tissues from oxida-
tive damage and dysfunction. However, the vitamin also
has numerous other important functions within the
body, many of which are known to support healthy im-
mune function. During infection, vitamin C levels can
become depleted and a person’s requirement for vitamin
C increases with the severity of the infection . In se-
vere cases, this may require intravenous administration
of gram doses in order to achieve high enough levels in
the body to compensate for the enhanced turnover of
As of February 2020, the clinical characteristics of pa-
tients hospitalized with COVID-19-related pneumonia in-
dicated that 26% were transferred to the ICU because of
complications such as ARDS and shock . A recently
published RCT carried out in the USA in 167 patients
with sepsis-related ARDS indicated that administration of
~ 15 g/day of IV vitamin C for 4 days may decrease mor-
tality in these patients . An earlier IV vitamin C trial of
patients admitted to the ICU with pneumonia included
hydrocortisone administration , however, systemic cor-
ticosteroid treatment has not been shown to have signifi-
cant benefits in patients with COVID-19 .
Just recently registered on clincialtrials.gov (Identifier:
NCT04264533), a new clinical trial to investigate vitamin
C infusion for the treatment of severe 2019-nCoV in-
fected pneumonia has begun in Wuhan, China. This is
one of the first RCTs to test the effects of IV vitamin C
in patients infected with this virus. In this trial, the in-
vestigators will treat 140 patients with a placebo control
or intravenous vitamin C at a dose of 24 g/day for 7 days.
They will assess requirements for mechanical ventilation
and vasopressor drugs, organ failure scores, ICU length
of stay and 28-day mortality.
The investigators of the new study hope to complete
the trial by the end of September. Although the findings
of this trial will be too late for the many thousands of
people currently infected with the virus, the study will
nevertheless provide valuable information as to the po-
tential mitigation of symptoms by vitamin C during fu-
ture viral outbreaks.
ACC is the recipient of a Health Research Council of New Zealand Sir Charles
Hercus Health Research Fellowship.
ACC wrote the letter. The author read and approved the final manuscript.
Availability of data and materials
Ethics approval and consent to participate
Consent for publication
Received: 10 March 2020 Accepted: 25 March 2020
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Department of Pathology & Biomedical Science, University of Otago,
Christchurch, PO Box 4345, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
Carr Critical Care (2020) 24:133
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