Does zinc supplementation enhance the clinical efficacy of chloroquine/ hydroxychloroquine to win today's battle against COVID-19?
R Derwand, M Scholz
Currently, drug repurposing is an alternative to novel drug development for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. The antimalarial drug chloroquine (CQ) and its metabolite hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) are currently being tested in several clinical studies as potential candidates to limit SARS-CoV-2-mediated morbidity and mortality. CQ and HCQ (CQ/HCQ) inhibit pH-dependent steps of SARS-CoV-2 replication by increasing pH in intracellular vesicles and interfere with virus particle delivery into host cells. Besides direct antiviral effects, CQ/HCQ specifically target extracellular zinc to intracellular lysosomes where it interferes with RNA-dependent RNA polymerase activity and coronavirus replication. As zinc deficiency frequently occurs in elderly patients and in those with cardiovascular disease, chronic pulmonary disease, or diabetes, we hypothesize that CQ/HCQ plus zinc supplementation may be more effective in reducing COVID-19 morbidity and mortality than CQ or HCQ in monotherapy. Therefore, CQ/HCQ in combination with zinc should be considered as additional study arm for COVID-19 clinical trials.
Conflict of interest The author Roland Derwand is/was at the time of writing an employee of Alexion Pharma Germany GmbH. The author Martin Scholz is/was at the time of writing External Senior Advisor for the company LEUKOCARE in Munich, Germany. The authors confirm that this article content has no conflict of interest.
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