Coronavirus update: Should you stockpile vitamin C? Expert’s insight into taking tablets

Coronavirus cases in the UK have now reached 200, and of this morning, 21,460 have been tested for the virus. On Thursday, the UK’s first coronavirus-related death was announced – a woman in her 70s who also hide underlying health conditions. And on Friday a man in his 80s with underlying health conditions became the second person in the UK to die after testing positive for the virus.

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Across the globe people have been stockpiling medicines, food, hand sanitiser and even toilet roll.

Many people on social media have also suggested stocking up on vitamin C – a vitamin which some health experts claim helps fight cold and flu and gives the immune system a boost.

But is vitamin C actually effective when it comes to coronavirus?

According to Professor Stephen Turner of Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University, the answer is no.

He said: “There is little evidence that taking supplements actually helps with preventing or limiting virus infections if you are already healthy.

“If you are healthy, then most of the excess vitamins are excreted by your body pretty quickly. Hydration is key while appropriate medicine can alleviate symptoms (e.g. aspirin, paracetamol).”

On Question Time this week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, said there was “absolutely no need” for people to buy in excess.

“The government has supplies of the key things that are needed. And within the food supply, we are absolutely confident that there won’t be a problem there,” he said.

“Crucially, we are working with the supermarkets to make sure that, if people are self-isolating, then we will be able to get the food and supplies that they need.”

Prof Chris Whitty, the UK’s chief medical adviser, also said there was “no need” for the public to stockpile food or medicine, adding that the outbreak would be a “marathon not a sprint”.

The government has assured people it has a stockpile of important medicines and protective equipment to counter any impact to global supply chains.

Alongside a keep calm and carry on attitude, Britons are being asked to carry out preventative methods to slow the spread of the virus.

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People are being asked to wash their hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds, and whenever they get home or into work, blow their nose, sneeze or cough, or eat or handle food.

Face masks have soared in popularity since the first cases of coronavirus were reported, but health officials say while they play a very important role in places like hospitals, there is very little evidence of widespread benefit for members of the public.

How do you know if you have coronavirus?

The three main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • A cough
  • A high temperature
  • Shortness of breath

The NHS advises: “But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness.

“The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.

“It’s very unlikely to be coronavirus if you have not been in close contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, or you have not been to a country or area with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days.

“If you think you might have coronavirus, use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do.”

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