Don’t be so quick to dismiss cheaper Covid-19 options like Vitamin C, Pakatan MP tells Health Ministry

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The Opposition lawmaker said that while new, innovative drugs like the antiviral Molnupiravir developed by Merck Sharp & Dohme to treat Covid-19 patients should be studied, health officials here should explore options like increasing the dosage of Vitamin C. — Picture courtesy of stock_colors / Istock.com
The Opposition lawmaker said that while new, innovative drugs like the antiviral Molnupiravir developed by Merck Sharp & Dohme to treat Covid-19 patients should be studied, health officials here should explore options like increasing the dosage of Vitamin C. — Picture courtesy of stock_colors / Istock.com

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 11 — The Health Ministry should not be so quick to dismiss cheaper and more readily available options to treat Covid-19 in the long term, Kuala Kedah MP Dr Azman Ismail said today.

The Opposition lawmaker said that while new, innovative drugs like the antiviral Molnupiravir developed by Merck Sharp & Dohme to treat Covid-19 patients should be studied, health officials here should explore options like increasing the dosage of Vitamin C.

“Molnupiravir is a new drug. It has a role. I agree that we buy and we try. However, the data given is only from Merck. We have other things that are much cheaper that we don’t even pay heed to. Vitamin C, for example,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat while the Temporary Measures for Government Financing (Coronavirus Disease 2019) Bill 2020 was being debated for a second reading.

He cited scientific papers in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Jama) and The New England Journal of Medicine in which less ill Covid-19 patients were given higher doses of Vitamin C at between six and eight grammes a day and were found to have recovered faster.

“China used it in Wuhan and China also did a trial on severe Covid cases, category 4 and 5 using intravenous drip, 24 grammes,” Dr Azman added.

He said Australia too approved using 60 grammes of Vitamin C to treat its Covid-19 patients and wondered why Malaysia’s Health Ministry had not considered this.

“When other countries were doing those trials, a unit under the MOH issued an advisory saying Vitamin C cannot be consumed beyond 100mg a day.

“This is nonsense. I say that this is nonsense because there is no good evidence, no good study, no good scientific evidence to say the human body cannot take Vitamin C above 100mg or 200mg. No such thing. Vitamin C is like water,” Dr Azman said.

He also called for more research to be done and to not “follow the ways of the rich nations too much, which does not care about wastages”.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said Malaysia has signed a letter of undertaking to purchase Molnupiravir last week.

Through the agreement, the government agreed to procure 150,000 complete treatment packages to treat Covid-19 patients.

* An earlier version of this article contained an error which has since been rectified.

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