Great Courses Professor Discusses Medicinal Prevention of COVID-19

infectious diseases professor talks vitamin c, zinc, anti-malarials

By Jonny Lupsha, Wondrium Staff Writer

Japan urged silence on roller coasters to prevent coronavirus spread, The Guardian reported. In an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Japanese authorities are asking roller coaster riders and sports game attendees to refrain from shouting. A Great Courses professor talks medicinal prevention.

Hand sanitizer
Medical health experts continue to learn more about the novel coronavirus every day, prompting little that they can promise about medicinal treatments like vitamin C and zinc. Photo by eggegg / Shutterstock

According to The Guardian, Japan’s theme park industry is taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus. “When the Fuji-Q Highland theme park reopened on June 1 after a three-month closure due to the pandemic, it asked visitors to follow the recommendations of the amusement park association and not to shout or scream,” the article said. “Most theme parks in Japan have now reopened, with masks compulsory at all of them. Restrictions on visitor numbers and the serving of alcohol remain in place.”

Since the coronavirus emerged last winter, most nations have taken measures to limit its spread, whether going into full lockdown or simply pushing a mandate on face masks and social distancing.

Dr. Barry Fox, Clinical Professor of Infectious Disease at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, taught The Great Courses’ lecture series An Introduction to Infectious Diseases. He recently spoke with us at length about the current state of the coronavirus, and in a previous article he discussed the characteristics of the disease. For this article, we focused on medicinal prevention.

Vitamin C and Zinc

So far, there is no cure for coronavirus, and medicinal treatments are still limited. However, that hasn’t stopped people from suggesting certain medicines to treat or prevent coronavirus. Is there any truth to them?

“In terms of prevention medicines, for other viral illnesses, people have certainly touted vitamin C and zinc products for reduction in infection,” Dr. Fox said. “I get this question relatively frequently and my response is: If you feel comfortable taking those medications, and there are some effects of these medicines on the immune system, and it’s not causing any harm, then go ahead and take it.”

However, COVID-19 is still such a new disease that our understanding of it is changing almost every day. This is why there’s so little that health experts can promise about medicinal treatments like vitamin C and zinc. Despite this, Dr. Fox stressed that as long as you’re doing no harm, he thinks it should be okay to take them.

The Anti-Malarial Debacle

On the other hand, several prominent people promoted taking the anti-malarial medicines chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to prevent contracting the coronavirus, but there’s little to no evidence of their effectiveness.

“There are still a couple of prevention studies that are ongoing, and health care workers that have not been stopped [from using them], but it’s unlikely that either of those two malaria-based medicines are going to be of benefit for prevention purposes,” Dr. Fox said.

Unfortunately, as studies of hydroxycholoroquine and chloroquine continue, they seem to be doing more harm than good.

“The data have been somewhat negative and also the issues of causing harm have been significant,” Dr. Fox said. “Patients in the studies have actually had more heart rhythm-related problems, and there have been a few deaths, so the United States and the World Health Organization stopped their chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine studies.”

As the world waits for a vaccine, or even a cure, it’s important to separate fact from fiction and get proper information. The Great Courses will continue to publish novel coronavirus and COVID-19 facts as they become available.

Image of Professor Barry Fox, M.D.

Dr. Barry Fox contributed to this article. Dr. Fox is a Clinical Professor of Infectious Disease at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. He received his undergraduate degree in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University and his medical degree from Vanderbilt University. He is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease.