Vladimir Zelenko

Vladimir (Zev) Zelenko (born 1973)[1] is a Ukrainian-American family physician known for promoting a three drug combination of hydroxychloroquine, zinc sulfate and azithromycin as part of an experimental outpatient treatment for COVID-19 that he has promoted as the Zelenko Protocol. He has also promoted unfounded medical advice, conspiracy theories, and misinformation about COVID-19 vaccination.[2]

Vladimir Zelenko
Zelenko in a striped shirt with certificates in background
Zelenko in 2020
Born1973 (age 47–48)
Kyiv, Soviet Ukraine
EducationState University of New York at Buffalo (MD)
OccupationFamily physician
Known forPromoting hydroxychloroquine-based treatment of COVID-19
WebsiteOfficial website

On March 23, 2020, Zelenko published an open letter to U.S. president Donald Trump where he claimed to have successfully treated hundreds of his COVID-19 patients with a 5 day course of his Protocol. Zelenko's treatment protocol quickly gained notoriety with several media figures and various Trump's administration officials promoting it, including Rudy Giuliani, and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, despite cautionary messages from health experts.[3]

Early life and educationEdit

Vladimir Zelenko was born in Kyiv (then, part of Soviet Ukraine), in 1973.[1][4] His family moved to the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York City when he was three years old.[4]

Zelenko attended medical school at the State University of New York at Buffalo, earning a Doctor of Medicine degree in 2000.[5]

COVID-19 treatment claimsEdit

On March 21, 2020, Zelenko posted a video to YouTube and Facebook addressed to U.S. president Donald Trump, in which he claimed to have successfully tested an experimental treatment for COVID-19 on hundreds of patients with coronavirus-like symptoms.[3] He described the treatment as a three-drug combination consisting of the anti-malarial medication hydroxychloroquine, the antibiotic azithromycin, and zinc sulfate,[6] and posted an open letter to Trump with similar claims two days later.[7] At the time, ongoing research was being conducted by various groups, including the World Health Organization, to determine the efficacy of using hydroxychloroquine and/or azithromycin to treat COVID-19.[8] In March 2020, Alex Kasprak, a science writer for Snopes, noted that since Zelenko did not describe his study design nor publish any data, his claims were unverifiable.[7] In December 2020, Zelenko with co-authors published an article on a retrospective case study of outpatient treatment with zinc, low-dose hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents.[9]

The Satmar Hasidic community in Kiryas Joel, New York in Monroe, New York, where Zelenko was a long-time community physician, issued a disclaimer to Zelenko's claims about the potential infection rate in their community as was reported in Jewish media sources, which announced that "Jewish MD who promoted virus cocktail is leaving [the] community where he tested it: Dr. Vladimir ‘Zev’ Zelenko, an Orthodox doctor credited with bringing controversial malaria drug to Trump's attention, accused of spreading disinformation about infection rates."[10][11][12]

In December 2020, Twitter suspended Zelenko's account for violating rules against "platform manipulation and spam". The ban was criticized by U.S. senator Ron Johnson and the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a conservative nonprofit group.[13]

Zelenko's FDA approval claimEdit

In April 2020, Zelenko presented a lecture over Zoom to a group of physicians, in which he alleged that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had granted approval to a clinical trial he was helping organize.[14] The lecture was attended by conservative commentator Jerome Corsi, who had been collaborating with Zelenko on a telemedicine website. Corsi inadvertently sent an email mentioning that Zelenko had "an FDA approved randomized test of HCQ underway" to federal prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, instead of Zelenko.[15] Zelinsky, who worked on former special counsel Robert Mueller's team, had previously questioned Corsi during the investigation of Roger Stone.[16]

According to Corsi, Zelinsky responded to his email and asked whether he had an attorney, and subsequently informed Corsi's attorney that he had discovered that Zelenko's study was not listed on a government website of FDA-approved clinical trials.[17] Zelinsky requested all communications between Corsi and Zelenko, including text messages, podcast documents, and marketing materials for their website, which Corsi supplied.[18] Zelenko denied any wrongdoing and said that he thought that his study had FDA approval because he had spoken with FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn.[14]

Personal lifeEdit

Zelenko is married and is the father of eight children. He has been married twice.[19] He is a Haredi Orthodox Jew and a follower of the Chabad movement.

Zelenko has published an autobiography, Metamorphosis, that explores how he was originally an irreligious Jewish Russian-American young man who become a baal teshuva (newly religious), and in turn created close ties with many diverse Jewish communities, and how circumstances in his life provided him with the willpower to overcome the challenges he has been handed, including a life-threatening disease.[20] Zelenko has also lectured about his personal story and the book he wrote about it.[21][22] He has also told of his personal journey in print such as in Mishpacha magazine.[19] In 2019, Dr. Zelenko co-authored with one of his sons Levi Yitzchok Zelenko, a book about Kabbalah, on Jewish mysticism, Hasidism, called Essence To Essence which “describes the metaphysical dynamics shared by science, medicine, psychology, economics, law, and politics.”[4][19]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Zelenko, Vladimir". Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  2. ^ Boigon, Molly (11 January 2021). "Hasidic doctor spouts conspiracy theories, anti-vaccine sentiment in video". The Forward. Forward. Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  3. ^ a b Roose, Kevin; Rosenberg, Matthew (April 2, 2020). "Touting Virus Cure, 'Simple Country Doctor' Becomes a Right-Wing Star". The New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Feldman, Ari (May 22, 2020). "Why Dr. Vladimir Zelenko staked his reputation on hydroxychloroquine". The Forward. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  5. ^ "Zelenko Vladimir". Verification Searches. New York State Education Department. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  6. ^ Sandler, Rachel (April 22, 2020). "NIH Panel Recommends Against Using Hydroxychloroquine And Azithromycin, Drug Combination Touted By Trump". Forbes. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  7. ^ a b Kasprak, Alex (March 30, 2020). "Has Dr. Zelenko Successfully Treated 669 Coronavirus Patients?". Snopes. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  8. ^ Kasprak, Alex (March 25, 2020). "Are Hydroxychloroquine, Azithromycin 'Game Changers' in Fight Against COVID-19?". Snopes. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  9. ^ Derwand, Roland; Scholz, Martin; Zelenko, Vladimir (2020). "COVID-19 outpatients: early risk-stratified treatment with zinc plus low-dose hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin: a retrospective case series study". International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents. 56 (6): 106214. doi:10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2020.106214. PMC 7587171. PMID 33122096. (Under a Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0))
  10. ^ Hanau, Shira. "Jewish MD who promoted virus cocktail is leaving community where he tested it". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  11. ^ Hanau, Shira. "Doctor who promoted coronavirus cocktail is leaving the community where he tested his treatment". clevelandjewishnews.com. JTA. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  12. ^ Woods, Amanda. "NY doctor who promoted COVID-19 drug cocktail leaves Jewish community". New York Post. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  13. ^ Johnson, Ron [@SenRonJohnson] (December 23, 2020). "It is outrageous that @Twitter has suspended the account of Dr. Zelenko @zev_dr, a man who has devoted his life to saving other people's lives. How many #Covid_19 patients has "Dr." Dorsey @jack treated? How many lives will be lost because of his censorship?" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  14. ^ a b LaFraniere, Sharon; Roose, Kevin (May 5, 2020). "Doctor Who Promoted Malarial Drug Draws Scrutiny of Federal Prosecutors". The New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  15. ^ Helderman, Rosalind S.; Zapotosky, Matt (April 30, 2020). "Justice Dept. scrutinizes White House-connected doctor linked to disputed coronavirus treatment". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  16. ^ Cheney, Kyle; Samuelsohn, Darren (November 12, 2018). "Roger Stone ally expecting Mueller indictment". Politico. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  17. ^ Balsamo, Michael; Madhani, Aamer (May 1, 2020). "Conservative author says email mix-up led to COVID-19 probe". Associated Press. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  18. ^ Sheth, Sonam (May 1, 2020). "DOJ began investigating a doctor promoting unproven COVID-19 treatments after Roger Stone's former associate accidentally emailed a federal prosecutor instead of the doctor". Business Insider. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  19. ^ a b c Bensoussan, Barbara (18 March 2020). "What the Doctor Ordered; As told to Barbara Bensoussan. Originally featured in Mishpacha Issue 803". mishpacha.com. Mishpacha Magazine. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  20. ^ Zelenko, Vladimir (2019). Metamorphosis: The Journey and Transformation of a Jewish Soul. Israel Bookshop Publications. ISBN 978-1-60091-656-4.[page needed][non-primary source needed]
  21. ^ Times Herald-Record (Nov 24, 2019). "Monroe physician Dr. Zev Zelenko to share his life story". recordonline.com. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  22. ^ Crown Heights Info. "Lubavitch Physician Dr. Zev Zelenko Speaks at Chabad of Orange County". crownheights.info. Retrieved 31 December 2020.

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