Be prepared for the next Corona epidemic

The population is not

May 29, 2020

The Corona is spreading more slowly now, and, here in Denmark, Covid-19 is gradually infecting fewer and fewer people and we are more aware of protecting ourselves against it.

There have been good effects from keeping our distance and from maintaining good hygiene in which we have all been well instructed.

Much to the surprise of the Danish Serum Institute, less than 2% of the Danish population has had the disease, and only a few of these individuals may have obtained immunity to SARS-CoV-2, which the virus is called.
This means that more than 98% have not been infected and are completely without immunity. So forget about herd immunity.

The Danish population is just as vulnerable it was were in March when it all started.

Let’s try to summarize what we know and what we can do about it.

What do we know now?
SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus responsible for the current Covid-19 pandemic, is characterized in that it – like the influenza virus – triggers a reaction with the release of a number of signaling molecules such as interleukins, interferons, and lymphokines.

When this release is powerful, it is called a “cytokine storm”, and with Covid-19, it is so powerful that immune cells begin to damage the tissues where the process is taking place, and, in this case, it is primarily the lung tissue that is damaged.

During the cytokine storm, a violent inflammatory response and increased release of free oxygen radicals are created, which further damages the lung tissue due to the subsequent inflammatory microcoagulation seen in the pulmonary vessels. Adding too much oxygen at this stage will only aggravate the situation, which several anesthesiologists have experienced when Covid-19 patients’ conditions worsen when they are put on a respirator.

What can we do about it
Thus, it is primarily about attenuating the fatal cytokine storm.
Here vitamin D, magnesium, selenium, and vitamin C are particularly important as they specifically inhibit this cytokine storm and the subsequent inflammatory microcoagulation in the pulmonary vessels.
If the level of these essential substances in the body is high enough then you will have a subdued cytokine storm and thus attenuated symptoms, as seen during influenza infection. Fresh extract of Coneflower (Echinacea) has also been documented in several scientific studies to effectively inhibit this cytokine storm.

It should be obvious to protect ourselves by promoting such harmless and inexpensive remedies, but unfortunately in the medical and pharmaceutical world, one tends to stare blindly at the most expensive solutions.
Medical professionals were first intrigued by the antiviral drug Remdesivir, which could shorten the disease period of Covid-19 from 15 to 11 days. This fascination has now been replaced by a new one, another drug, an experimental cancer drug, Bemcentinib that may prevent viruses from entering the cells. A phase II trial is underway for 120 people, and we hope we will be able to get the result in a few months.

Well, it is excellent that medical professionals try to find a medicine that can help in this situation, but is it absolutely necessary to find a new, expensive medicine with side effects, when there are other far cheaper options without side effects?

The long awaited vaccine
While all this is going on, the pharmaceutical industry is working full speed on a vaccine. A vaccine against an RNA virus is very difficult to make, and using a vaccine is especially problematic because viruses constantly mutate and thereby often change the immune response.

No vaccine has ever been safety-tested, in the same way that medicine is tested, and this is a bit problematic because in recent years, the industry has started to add substances whose purpose is to stimulate the immune system for effective antibody formation. And stimulating antibody formation is good enough, too, but the safety of these substances has never been investigated. In Denmark, the use of mercury (thimerosal or thiomersal) in childhood vaccines was stopped from 1992 and in influenza vaccines from 2004, with the exception of the vaccine in 2009, which was an embarrassing exception. The toxic mercury should never be used again for human use – neither in the teeth, for that matter.

But in recent years aluminum has been added in the form of nanoparticles as well as squalene emulsions. These adjuvants have not been safety tested. It has just been noted (WHO has noted) that the number of side effects is not greater than is usually seen with vaccination. Aluminum is a neurotoxin, but it has been used in vaccines in the form of various aluminum salts since 1930, so in that form it probably isn’t particularly harmful. The problem is that nanoparticles are now being used that cannot be stopped by a cell membrane. They can penetrate all tissues.
It cannot be ruled out that it is safe to use these additives. It’s just never been investigated.

It should be a simple task to make a study with each of these ingredients against a real placebo such as brine.
We have many excellent vaccines, so let’s not be vaccine deniers. Let’s welcome a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine when it arrives, and then just hope it is properly safety tested. Of course, this hope becomes a requirement if we are to be mandatory vaccinated.

Of course, the Coronavirus will return
When and how bad we do not know, but it will come.
As mentioned in the Vitamin C newsletter, one of Europe’s experts in Covid-19, Professor Christian Drosten from the University of Berlin, has stated that the second wave could be tougher than the current one.
And since more than 98% of the Danish population is without immunity against it, we should not sit with our hands in our laps and wait for a vaccine.

We need to be proactive.
We need to make sure that we have enough of the nutrients that can reduce the risk of our getting sick, and especially the nutrients that can dampen the cytokine storms, so that we get a mild course of illness if we get sick anyway.

Especially old people and people who eat only very little, who may also be weakened by chronic disease, will do well by supplementing the diet in order to be well equipped with an optimally functioning immune system as the next virus threat approaches.

An appropriate daily dose for a normal-weight adult will typically be:

  • Vitamin A: 1-2 mg
  • Vitamin B6: 4-5 mg
  • Vitamin C: 2-3,000 mg
  • Vitamin D3: 75-100 µg
  • Selenium: 100-200 µg
  • Zinc: 20-30 mg
  • Magnesium: 200-300 mg

Note: The low dose is for those weighing less than 70 kg (155 pounds / 11 stones).

If you start now, you will be prepared in the fall. This is an obvious strategy for the country’s nursing homes.

This is the fifth and final Covid-19 newsletter.

Unfortunately, the five newsletters are necessary as this knowledge and scientific back-up are neglected in the public counseling of the population.

Take care of yourself and others,

Claus Hancke, MD,
Specialist in general medicine


  • McGonagle D et al. (2020) Immune mechanisms of pulmonary intravascular coagulopathy in COVID-19 pneumonia. Lancet May 7, 2020:1-9
  • Zhang Y, Leung D, Richers B, et al. (2012) Vitamin D Inhibits Monocyte/Macrophage Proinflammatory Cytokine Production by Targeting MAPK Phosphatase-1. Journal of Immunology. 2012;188(5):2127-2135.
  • Alberto Boretti, Bimal Krishna Banik (2020) Intravenous vitamin C for reduction of cytokines storm in acute respiratory distress syndrome PharmaNutrition.
    2020 Jun;12:100190. Published online 2020 Apr 21.
  • Sharma M, Anderson A et al.(2009) Induction of multiple pro-inflammatory cytokines by respiratory viruses and reversal by standardized Echinacea, a potent antiviral herbal extract. Antiviral Research, 2009;83(2):165-170.
  • Cannell JJ, Zasloff M, Garland CF et al. (2008) On the epidemiology of influenza.
    Virol J. 2008;5:29.
  • Gorton HC, Jarvis K (1999) The effectiveness of vitamin C in preventing and relieving the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections. J Manip Physiol Ther, 22:8, 530-533
  • Hemilä H (2003) Vitamin C and SARS coronavirus Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Volume 52, Issue 6, December 2003, Pages 1049–1050
  • WHO Global advisory committee on vaccine safety 2020 (ikke ændret siden 2006).

Healthy and Safe

October 25, 2007

There are over 480,000 published peer-reviewed research studies on food supplements or ingredients used in food supplements, and the vast majority of these show positive effects. There are only a small handful of studies that have shown negative effects, these generally being associated with high doses or synthetic forms of ingredients like vitamin A, beta-carotene and vitamin E.

In the case of vitamin A, there is no doubt that high doses of this fat soluble vitamin can be harmful and an upper safe level or maximum permitted level for this vitamin makes perfect sense.

There are three key studies showing negative effects of beta-carotene on diseased or high-risk patients, but these have all used synthetic beta-carotene, in the absence of natural carotenoid complexes found in natural carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables which have been found to be potent cancer-fighting nutrients. Ironically, these natural ‘mixed carotenoids’ are disallowed by the Food Supplements Directive.

Finally, there are four key negative studies on vitamin E, all of them conducted with synthetic vitamin E, which comprises only one of the eight vitamin E forms found in nature, but in its esterified form. This form, alpha-tocopherol, the only vitamin E form allowed by the Directive, actually reduces the body’s absorption of gamma-tocopherol which is the key antioxidant form of vitamin E found in food sources.

By: Robert Verkerk, The Alliance for Natural Health, United Kingdom

New slander against antioxidants

March 13, 2007

A new article maintains that antioxidants cause death, but the article is based on a comparison of results from incomparable studies.

Once again a scientific article has created a commotion regarding antioxidants. It claims that they cause death. This has been heard, and disproved, before. Because of the common uncertainty regarding this subject, we are nonetheless forced to take a stand regarding this claim.

The man behind this claim is a Serbian professor from a university located in the town of Nis. One of the co-authors is a Danish physician who has, among other things, declared antioxidants to be poisonous and cancer causing on Danish TV. He even suggested that they are poisonous in the amounts found in vegetables.

The study is a so called Meta analysis. It combines as many old studies on antioxidants as possible and extracts a kind of average from their results. Small four week studies are blended up with larger studies which have gone on for up to 12 years. Studies where very small doses were used are blended up with studies on mega doses, studies using one antioxidant are blended up with studies on combinations of antioxidants (e.g. vitamin E, vitamin C, and selenium), and so on. Among the studies used, there are at least eight different combination treatments using vitamin E. This enormous mess alone causes the study to be somewhat questionable. One cannot calculate an average between apples and oranges.

This is not even the worst part. In an attempt to prove that vitamin E increases risk of death (the articles primary claim), the ignored studies where selenium was used together with vitamin E. The selenium studies often showed reduced mortality and lowered cancer risk. This was not good for the Meta analysis authors, it disturbed their theory. They eliminated 11 essential studies on vitamin E and selenium from the analysis.

Selenium was ignored, but that wasn’t enough. The still couldn’t prove that vitamin E is harmful. The numbers wouldn’t work. To solve this, the article uses the fact that the antioxidant beta-carotene, the yellow colouring in carrots, increases death rates in smokers. This is commonly accepted (although not completely certain). In two of the largest studies conducted on antioxidants, a very slightly increased death rate was found due to a combination of beta-carotene and vitamin E.

More peculiarities
Common sense lends to the conclusion that beta-carotene is the villain in these studies. This was known in advance. Combinations of vitamin E with e.g. vitamin C and/or selenium do not increase mortality. More likely the opposite is true. In the large and very thorough French SU.VI.MAX study, death rates in men fell by over a third when they received vitamin E and vitamin C as well as selenium (besides zinc and beta-carotene!). This introduced a new era because this was the first time in our part of the world that a large array of antioxidants was used in study; which is what most people recommend. The antioxidants in our food are an orchestra, not solo instruments. They must play together to work. In a Chinese study from Linxian the same thing was found: lower mortality after supplements of vitamins E and C, selenium, beta-carotene, and vitamin A.

But the article in question maintains that vitamin E causes death. The claim is built, along with the discussed “manoeuvres,” on the two aforementioned studies, because the other vitamin E studies are insignificantly small in comparison. In these studies vitamin E was used with beta-carotene, and vitamin E was blamed in the Meta analysis for the poor results.

This is like claiming that mineral water is deadly if someone dies after drinking water mixed with arsenic. This conclusion is insane. The arsenic is deadly, not the water. Even though A+B is dangerous, it can naturally not be claimed that both A and B are dangerous alone.

There are other peculiarities in the article. Among other things, in at least two of the studies used, mortality was calculated many years after the end of the study. This is comparable to blaming a traffic accident for back pain when the pain became apparent eight years after the traffic accident. This type of measure was apparently necessary to get the desired results.

It is very easy to make these arguments in a scientific journal. If not for the press, it would be ignored. The article is based on a comparison of a number of incomparable articles, and this makes it hardly worth the effort it takes to make it better. It has also been exposed to sharp criticism. It has been clearly dismissed by two unrelated statisticians and by a professor of nutrition at Harvard University, Meir Stampfer. Stampfer is world renown and among the leading figures in nutrition studies encompassing over 300,000 people. He says that he will continue taking his vitamin supplements, unfazed by the article. But he adds that the article can lead to misinterpretation of the information that we have.

This is unfortunately an all too real possibility. Not in the least because the analysis’s authors insistently do the same.

By: Niels Hertz MD


1. Bjelakovic G, Nikolova D, Gluud LL et al. Mortality in randomized trials of antioxidant supplements for primary and secondary prevention trials. JAMA 2007;297:842-857.
2. Virtamo J et al. ATBC Study Group. Incidence of cancer and mortality following alpha-tocoferol and beta carotene supplementation: A postintervention follow up. JAMA 2003;290:476-485.
3. Lee IM et al. Vitamin E in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer. The Women’s Health Study. A randomized, controlled trial. JAMA 2005;294:56-65.