In the first-ever move, clinical trials have been fast-tracked to test whether receiving a daily injection of zinc chloride will benefit patients with coronavirus. A world-first trial will see researchers from Austin Health and the University of Melbourne use intravenous zinc to fight the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). The trial is being led by Dr Joseph Ischia from Austin Health, along with Dr Oneel Patel from the Department of Surgery at the University of Melbourne, who has a long history of investigating the protective effects of intravenous zinc against organ damage induced by lack of oxygen.
Key facts about zinc:
- Zinc has proven effective in helping fight infections and can even reduce the duration and severity of the common cold – WHO, 2002
- The body requires zinc to develop and activate T-lymphocytes. Individuals with low zinc levels have shown reduced lymphocyte proliferation response to mitogens and other adverse alterations in immunity that can be corrected by zinc supplementation
- Multiple meta-analyses and pooled analyses of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) have shown that oral zinc supplementation reduces the incidence rate of acute respiratory infections by 35% per cent, shortens the duration of flu-like symptoms by approximately two days and improves the rate of recovery
- Zinc helps reduce the severity and duration of cold symptoms by directly inhibiting rhinovirus binding and replication in the nasal mucosa and suppressing inflammation
- Increasing the intracellular Zn2+ by Aartjan J W te Velthuis states that zinc is effective at slowing the rate that similar viruses such as SARS and common cold replicate in the body
Scientists and senior officials from prominent medical institutes have been emphasising on the importance of an optimally functioning immune system to safeguard against the disease. Several clinical nutritionists have highlighted that zinc plays a pertinent role in treating severe pneumonia and improving anti-viral immunity in addition to Vitamin C and D.
President Donald Trump recently highlighted the potential role of zinc in his COVID-19 briefing and mentioned the apparent success in prescribing the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in combination with zinc to treat patients with severe symptoms of COVID-19. While more scientific evidence is needed to show the full effectiveness of this treatment, it does appear promising as suggested by Dr Anthony Cardillo, ER Specialist and CEO, Mend Urgent Care.
Zinc is an essential trace element and plays an active role in the function of more than 300 enzymes and hormones. It is also critical to the supply chain of medical devices now in dire need including defibrillators, artificial respiration devices, Ionization units, air purifiers, portable oxygen supplies and inhalers, among others. The loss or reduction of zinc availability for these critical applications could threaten response capability of hospitals and health systems, food distribution and logistics networks, and reduce or hamper mobility across the economy.
In line with these developments, International Zinc Association (IZA) – leading industry association dedicated exclusively to the interests of zinc and its users – has been closely monitoring the situation and working actively finding potential treatment with zinc for COVID-19. The association has collaborated with focussed zinc expert groups and will continue to share relevant updates with Indian authorities.