Zinc against COVID-19? Symptom surveillance and deficiency risk groups
Joachimiak et al.
, Zinc against COVID-19? Symptom surveillance and deficiency risk groups
, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0008895 (Review)
Literature review concluding that zinc should be included as part of preventative supplementation for COVID-19, in general for support of immune health, and should also be considered in the context of zinc deficiency acquired during a viral infection and host immune response.
Joachimiak et al., 4 Jan 2021, peer-reviewed, 1 author.
Abstract: PLOS NEGLECTED TROPICAL DISEASES
Zinc against COVID-19? Symptom surveillance
and deficiency risk groups
Marcin P. Joachimiak ID*
Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley,
CA, United States of America
Citation: Joachimiak MP (2021) Zinc against
COVID-19? Symptom surveillance and deficiency
risk groups. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 15(1): e0008895.
Editor: Susanna Kar Pui Lau, The University of
Hong Kong, HONG KONG
Published: January 4, 2021
Copyright: © 2021 Marcin P. Joachimiak. This is an
open access article distributed under the terms of
the Creative Commons Attribution License, which
permits unrestricted use, distribution, and
reproduction in any medium, provided the original
author and source are credited.
Funding: This work was supported by Laboratory
Directed Research and Development (LDRD)
Program of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
(LBNL) under U.S. Department of Energy Contract
No. DE-AC02-05CH11231 (to M.P.J). The funders
had no role in study design, data collection and
analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the
Competing interests: The authors have declared
that no competing interests exist.
A wide variety of symptoms is associated with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, and these symptoms can overlap with other conditions and
diseases. Knowing the distribution of symptoms across diseases and individuals can support clinical actions on timelines shorter than those for drug and vaccine development. Here,
we focus on zinc deficiency symptoms, symptom overlap with other conditions, as well as
zinc effects on immune health and mechanistic zinc deficiency risk groups. There are wellstudied beneficial effects of zinc on the immune system including a decreased susceptibility
to and improved clinical outcomes for infectious pathogens including multiple viruses. Zinc
is also an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative stress agent, relevant to some severe Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) symptoms. Unfortunately, zinc deficiency is common
worldwide and not exclusive to the developing world. Lifestyle choices and preexisting conditions alone can result in zinc deficiency, and we compile zinc risk groups based on a
review of the literature. It is also important to distinguish chronic zinc deficiency from deficiency acquired upon viral infection and immune response and their different supplementation strategies. Zinc is being considered as prophylactic or adjunct therapy for COVID-19,
with 12 clinical trials underway, highlighting the relevance of this trace element for global
pandemics. Using the example of zinc, we show that there is a critical need for a deeper
understanding of essential trace elements in human health, and the resulting deficiency
symptoms and their overlap with other conditions. This knowledge will directly support
human immune health for decreasing susceptibility, shortening illness duration, and preventing progression to severe cases in the current and future pandemics.
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