High-dose zinc salt might work against COVID-19
High-dose zinc salt lozenges appear to have some benefit against SARS-CoV-2, producing symptomatic and objective improvements in COVID-19 patients, according to data from a small case-series study. This supports evaluation of the lozenges as a potential therapy for the infection in a controlled setting.
Researchers looked at four consecutive outpatients with clinical characteristics of and/or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, all of whom were started on high-dose oral zinc therapy (every 2–4 hours, dissolving lozenges on their tongue over 20–30 minutes, but not to exceed 200 mg). Patients 1 (63-year-old male) and 2 (57-year-old female) received zinc citrate lozenges (23 mg of elemental zinc); patient 3 (41-year-old female), zinc citrate/zinc gluconate (23 mg); and patient 4 (26-year-old female), zinc acetate (15 mg).
Within 24 hours after initiation of high-dose zinc treatment, all patients exhibited favourable changes in symptomatic and objective measures of disease. The improvements were noted for fever, headaches, and muscle pain in patient 1, and for cough and shortness of breath in patient 2. Their conditions continued to improve over a 10-day period.
The remaining two patients showed a similar pattern of improvement. Patient 3 reported feeling better a day after starting zinc; she was well 10 days after. Finally, patient 4 noticed that cough and body aches were alleviated after the first day of treatment; she felt fully recovered 2 weeks later.
No side effects occurred, except for a chalky taste reported by patient 2. The safety profile was consistent with trials evaluating elemental zinc doses up to 216 mg/day for common cold.
Although largely unknown, the mechanism underlying the positive effect of increased intracellular Zn2+ concentrations on SARS- CoV-2 virus replication may involve the inhibition of proteolytic processing of polyproteins observed in many RNA viruses.
In light of the results, the researchers said that it would be practical to begin testing zinc as a potential therapy for COVID-19, given the low toxicity and ease of administration of zinc lozenges.