COVID-19 Treatment Options – Good and Bad News

There are been 4-5 drug combination studies or trials that are showing promising results for treating COVID-19.

High dose intravenous vitamin C is being used in New York with success. Intravenous injections of vitamin C have also been shown to be useful for certain types of cancer treatment or prevention. It must be intravenous as our bodies will only absorb around 1000mg a day orally. Orally is useful for immunity in general and in advance of catching the disease.

Chloroquine and hydroxycloroquine (both malaria drugs) have been shown in various studies to be effective against COVID-19, especially in conjunction with other medications like a Z-Pak or minerals like zinc (as discussed in previous blog posts).  With adequate supply of these drugs, medical supplies like masks, respirators and their parts, this would be a very manageable situation.

In addition to the treatment options, there is now a test in the US to see if someone has already had COVID-19.  These people likely have immunity and can go back to normal life right away. A microbiology lab at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai created the protocol and made it available for other research labs and hospitals to use as a template so they can set up their own antibody test. The idea is that this assay can be established anywhere in the world following the protocol. Let’s hope this takes off!

Now for some bad news. According to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, there are shortages of hydroxycloroquine and chloroquine in the United States. Physicians in the US prescribe these drugs for travelers who are heading to malaria infected areas and hydroxycloroquine is often prescribed for people with rheumatoid arthritis, but we lack the amount of inventory needed to use it as a preventative on a grand scale, and maybe not enough for even critical patients as the virus spreads or has clustered outbreaks.

I doubt these drugs are made in the US. Most of our pharmaceuticals and drugs are made in China and India, a practice health experts worry leaves America vulnerableThis is a global outbreak and these countries as well as countries they supply will be clamoring for these drugs. It will take a while to ramp up production, especially while there is a labor shortage or stoppage.

China’s numbers of new cases seem to be under control, but their numbers are hard to trust. They likely still need supplies and resources. In addition, China has publically threatened to cut off pharmaceuticals and medical supplies to the US.

India has banned the export of both hydroxycloroquine and formulations made from hydroxycloroquine. Companies in India produce major amounts of hydroxycloroquine as well as components of the drug.  India previously blocked exports of ventilators and masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Authorities in India this week recommended hydroxycloroquine for high-risk groups, including healthcare workers.

In addition, India just started a 21-day lock down yesterday.  Although these drugs are allowed to be manufactured during the lock down, this will impact production, transportation, and distribution of these drugs at the exact moment the world needs them most.

All this adds up to a very limited supply of these drugs for some period of time. As with anything people perceive as being limited (hello, toilet paper), there will likely be a run on it.  A recent ProPublica article detailed how healthcare workers are hoarding these drugs for their and their families’ use. This is just one group of people. Almost certainly more will try to hoard it.

Hopefully, we will be able keep the supplies in the hospitals to treat those that really need it. Not only will this help save lives, but healing people faster will free up beds and equipment so more people can receive care. The medical staff providing care should use it as a preventative treatment or when they show early symptoms so they can continue caring for patients. Low risk people should wait until supplies can catch up with demand.

Stay safe, stay strong!