COVID 19: How zinc may help protect against coronavirus


The second wave of covid-19 infections has proven to be even more contagious and fatal than the first one. This has even resulted in an excess burden on the healthcare system, coupled with a shortage of vaccines, beds, ventilators, oxygen, and medicines. As such, it becomes extremely important for people to take care of their health by eating healthy, exercising and following all appropriate protocols.

“In the current situation, zinc emerges as an important element of choice for the management of Covid-19 symptoms along with anti-infective and other antiparasitic drugs,” according to Dr Scott Read, senior lecturer, School of Medicine at Western Sydney University, Australia.

Dr Scott cited several studies in support of the effectiveness of zinc 50 mg daily in cases of SARs-CoV2 or coronavirus. According to a research paper published by Advances in Integrative Medicine Journal, “zinc might potentially reduce the risk, duration and severity of SARS-CoV-2 infections, particularly for populations at risk of zinc deficiency including people with chronic disease co-morbidities and older adults.”

Another research published in Clinical Immunology Journal said that consumption of up to 50mg Zinc per day may provide a protective role against the Covid-19, likely by improving the host’s resistance against viral infections.

Dr Scott said, “Zinc deficiency has been associated with an increased susceptibility to infectious diseases, including viral infections.” Studies have shown that the zinc status of an individual is a critical factor that can influence immunity against viral infections.

However, he pointed out that the biggest challenge in realising the “therapeutic value of zinc is the lack of understanding of optimal dosage of zinc supplementation”.

“The right amount of zinc, that is, 50 mg, which of course is available in few brands, would not only allow zinc to achieve its therapeutic potential against Covid-19 but also could circumvent the confounding multiple responses and efficacies associated with insufficient dosage intake of zinc, offered by majority of the conventional brands available in the market,” he said.

Why 50mg zinc?

It has advantages like lack of toxicity, low cost, and ease of availability which could be rapidly implemented clinically. Even in the present scenario, governments of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, and Assam have already included zinc along with other nutraceuticals, anti-infectives, corticosteroids and antiparasitic, etc drugs in their protocol for the management of COVID-19.

Dr Scott also indicated prophylactic use of zinc in a lower dose of 20mg could improve systemic zinc levels but a higher dosage is always beneficial in acute infections. “Studies have shown that zinc supplementation decreased incidence of infections, decreased oxidative stress, and decreased generation of inflammatory cytokines,” he said.

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