Controversial Jewish doctor who promoted untested Covid treatment dies at 48

Vladimir Zelenko was an early proponent of Hydroxychloroquine in the US


An orthodox Jewish doctor who found fame in the US after promoting unorthodox Covid-19 treatments early in the pandemic has died aged 48.

Vladimir Zelenko, from the Satmar Hasidic town of Kiryas Joel in upstate New York, was for most of his career an unknown family doctor.

But Zelenko was thrust into the spotlight in 2020, after a three-drug cocktail he recommended for treating covid was picked up by American rightwing media including Fox News.

The three medicine treatment comprised of antimalarial medication hydroxychloroquine, the common antibiotic azithromycin and zinc sulfate. After a few Facebook posts where Mr. Zelenko bragged of his success treating patients in Kiryas Joel, he was promoted by several pundits, including Sean Hannity.

High-ranking members of the Trump administration later adopted Mr. Zelenko as part of a push to normalise Hydroxychloroquine as a treatment method and Zelenko maintained contact with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

The doctor's overnight fame led to tensions in the tight-knit community of Kiryas Joel, where community leaders released an open letter calling on him to stop spreading what he termed the 'Zelenko regime' of medicine to cure Covid.

He eventually left Kiryas Joel in June of 2020, after releasing a video in which he said: “I’ve decided that it’s time for me to move on. I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do.”

Prior to the Covid pandemic, Zelenko was a well-known family doctor in Kiryas Joel, who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2018 which is believed to be the cause of his death last Sunday.

Born in Kyiv in the early 1970s, Zelenko immigrated to Brooklyn with his family and attended Hofstra University on Long Island before a trip to Israel re-ignited his belief in Judaism and led to him making the move to Kiryas Joel.

He is survived by his second wife and his eight children: Shira, Liba, Levi Yitzchok, Esther Tova, Eta Devorah, Nochum Dovid, Shmuel Nosson Yaakov and Menachem Mendel.

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