Ventilators, Coronavirus, and Vitamin C

By Dr. Daniel Cobb, DOM

This is March/April of 2020.  The initial coronavirus epidemic is ramping up across America.  We have seen what has occurred in China, and many are worried about whether or not resources are in place to respond to the level of patients that are predicted to need medical care.

Health care in the United States is a for-profit industry.  Pandemic preparedness is a loss in the income statement in every year when a pandemic does not occur.  It has been more than 100 years since the last big one.  Of course, even though this is a wealthy country with enormous resources, we are not prepared.

Shortages of masks and most other medically-protective equipment are easily remedied because almost anyone can make them.  Ventilators are a different issue.  They are a little more complex.  MIT designs a ventilator that can be made with off-the shelf materials for $100, and a Texas university shows off a simple design that could be made  for about $300.  But, the FDA is not impressed.  All ventilators up to this point have been “approved” by the FDA, and they are not budging.  The typical price for an approved ventilator – $50,000.

Hospitals and state governors are begging/screaming for more ventilators.  They are not yet overloaded, but they are looking at projections of the increase in coronavirus patients loads, and expect that without a dramatic increase in available ventilators, their hospitals will have to start deciding who will get a ventilator, and who will not.  They are looking at this  as being the equivalent to deciding who will live, and who will die.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the physiology of ventilator usage with respect to how coronavirus infections progress.   CV is an infection that affects the lungs.  The end stage of this disease is typically when the patient starts getting fluid in the lungs.  This makes it hard to do the CO2/oxygen exchange in the alveoli.  Ventilators are a “breathing assist” device,  and it is the reason why so many ventilators are predicted to be in use.  When someone dies from a coronavirus infection, it occurs typically when the lungs fill up with enough fluid that the patient suffocates. 

The next important question is – why do the alveoli start to leak ?   The membrane in the alveoli needs to be very thin in order to passively exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide, but that membrane also needs to keep the fluids from the blood from leaking into the lungs.  Collagen and elastin fibers are the  major factor in keeping the membrane strong enough but still thin enough so that it can let gases pass though, but keep fluids from leaking.

Collagen  fibers are constantly breaking/wearing out.  Throughout our life, collagen fibers are routinely being replaced.  There is a formula of nutrients for the creation of new collagen fibers :

• Amino acids (commonly L-Lysine, L-Proline, and L-Glycine)
• Vitamin C
• Zinc
• Copper
• Sulfur

When looking at this formula, it is useful to predict the most common point of failure.  The amino acids, zinc, copper, and sulfur are commonly found in foods, and do not tend to be used up in a CV infection.  However, vitamin C has several uses that would cause it to be used in much larger quantities during a CV infection.  Vitamin C is the body’s primary antioxidant.  That means that it will be used to neutralize free radicals.  Viral infections are known to create large amounts of free-radicals.  Vitamin C is also used by the immune system to fight viral and bacterial infections.

Vitamin C is not stored in the body.  Once it is in the bloodstream, it has a half-life of about 30 minutes, and it is gone in 4 hours.  It needs to be constantly replenished.  The needs for vitamin C are dependent upon the stresses placed upon the body.  CV infection generates the need for much more vitamin C than during “normal” times.

Another factor in vitamin C availability is  in the attitudes of conventional medicine.  This is a multi-trillion dollar per year medical system that is full of multi-million dollar diagnostic machines and drugs that can cost more than your annual salary for a single dose  It is very difficult for them  to look at an unpatentable vitamin that costs a few pennies per dose and believe that it might be the best remedy in a pandemic.  Typically, hospitals will not make vitamin C available to any patient.  This is changing – primarily due to successes during this CV pandemic, but changes are occurring slowly and implemented in only a few areas.  Vitamin C IV’s are now common in China, and in some hospitals in New York City.  But even with these changes, vitamin C is usually administered to a CV patient in a large dose (15+ grams per day) in a procedure that still has a significant cost because of the IV administration.  Giving a CV patient an oral dose of a couple of grams per day of vitamin C would still probably almost never done in a hospital setting.

Let’s see how all of this plays out in a typical CV infection scenario.

Someone gets infected with CV, and after a week or more starts showing symptoms.   If they have a robust immune system, they might get over the infection with no problem.  But we will look at the cases where this does not happen. 

They get tested for CV, and the test is positive.  They are admitted to the hospital.

The infection uses up progressively more vitamin C until most of the time, the patient has absolutely none left.

The alveoli start to leak fluid into the lungs.

They need a ventilator.  The ventilator does not directly treat the infection, but it does give the patient a better chance to recover because of the breathing assistance.

If their condition gets worse, the fluid in the lungs will increase, and this will be the reason that they die.

Let ‘s now look at an alternative scenario where the hospital gives the patient 6 grams of vitamin C per day (1000 mg 6 times per day). 

Vitamin C, because it actually fights the infection has been used as a cure for CV.  The dosages where this has been successful are typically higher than 6 grams, so this is not likely to  be a cure, but it will still contribute to diminishing the seriousness of the infection.  The 6 grams is almost certainly going  to be enough to maintain the integrity of the membranes of the alveoli.  This prevents fluid from getting into the lungs, and the patient has a much longer time to develop antibodies and overcome the infection through other means. 

Because the vitamin C prevents the fluid from leaking into the lungs, the ventilator will not be necessary.  So, you can see, in this scenario, 6 grams of vitamin C per day is being substituted for the use of a ventilator.

Now it’s time to do some math.

Because New York state has become a location of a large number of CV cases, I will use statistics from New York state as of 4/19/20 for my example.

New York state, as of 4/19/20 has had a total of 242,570 CV cases.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has publicly stated that NY State needs 40,000 ventilators to get through this crisis.  (This has been later proven to be higher than what was needed by a significant margin).

A 50 KG package of vitamin C is available online for a price of 695.95.  This translates to a price for a 1 gram dose of 1.4 cents.  Therefore, the material cost for a daily 6 gram dose of vitamin C would be 8.4 cents.  Therefore, it would cost $20,375.88 per day to give this 6 gram dose to all 242,570 patients for a day.  This means that, for the cost of 13 ventilators, NY State could very likely keep the lungs of all 242,570 patients clear for a little better than 30 days.

It is easy to see the cost benefit here.  Of course, real people don’t translate directly to spreadsheet-like predictions.  Many of those 242,570 would recover inside of 30 days, and others (mostly those with advanced underlying health problems) would die.  The total patient count is increasing day by day, but calculations that I have presented are scalable, and present the same benefit at any increased patient level. 

Also, it takes a lot less expertise and effort to distribute vitamin C doses that to run a ventilator, and I didn’t even factor that in.  The average annual salary for a registered respiratory therapist in the United States is about $68K.  Not only does this add significantly to the cost of the ventilator type of treatment, there is a strong possibility that during the height of a pandemic, there would not be enough qualified respiratory therapists to run all of the machines.

At this point, you might be thinking of sending some criticism my way because all I am discussing is keeping CV patients’ lungs clear instead of actually getting them to the point of recovery.  

The first point I want to make is that I am comparing a 6 gram daily dose of vitamin C to ventilators, and they have just about the same effect.  Ventilators don’t cure the disease either.

The second point I would like to make is that I already wrote a separate article that tells you how to prevent and cure CV infections nutritionally.  I don’t claim that my method is the only one that works.  I have read about many, and I think they all work to some degree or another.  So, I will give you an abbreviated  list of my preferred vitamins/minerals to prevent/treat/cure CV infections.  These are daily doses for a 160 lb adult which should be scaled by body weight. ( These nutrients are listed in order of importance)

• Selenium – 200 mcg
• Vitamin D3 – 2000 iu
• Lugol’s Solution (a supplement containing elemental iodine and KI) – 12 mg
• Vitamin C – 1 gram 8 times/day
• Zinc – 30 mg
• Copper – 2 mg
• Vitamin A (fat-soluble) between 15,000 and 25,000 iu
• A food source of sulfur such as eggs, kale cruciferous veg, mustard greens, etc.

Dr. Daniel Cobb, DOM.
Doctor of Oriental Medicine (DOM), Dipl. Ac., Dipl. C.H. (NCCAOM)

Dr. Cobb was “inspired” to get into the health-care field over 16 years ago when he was experiencing chronic fatigue complicated by pesticide poisoning. After getting his New Mexico acupuncture license, he realized that his proper place in the health-care system was as a teacher and a proponent of nutrition and detoxification. He took the Gerson cancer treatment training and took referrals from the Gerson Institute for several years. He has taught acupuncture continuing education courses, teaches classes that are open to the public every Monday evening (6:30 to 8:00 PM) at IHHC. In the past year, he has begun teaching Anatomy & Phyisiology at Southwest Acupuncture College. Dr. Cobb is known for his nutritional treatment of heart disease, and his book on this topic.


Coronavirus: Cuomo wants more ventilators, but are there enough specialists to run them?,  Registered Repiratory Therapist Salary in the United States,

Number of cases confirmed in NY State as of March 30, 2020 – 59,513

Number of ventilators that Governor Cuomo has publicly stated that NY State needs: 40,000

Wholesale cost of vitamin C purchased when buying 50 KG quantity: 1.4 cents  $695.95

Population of NY State:  19.44 million

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