A study by Spanish medical researchers revealed that administer zinc to the sick of covid-19 can speed up your recovery and prevent the disease from worsening, as published in the magazine Nutrients.
The study carried out by scientists from the Hospital del Mar, the Hospital del Mar Institute for Medical Research (IMIM) and the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) of Catalonia (northeast) has shown that patients infected by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus with lower levels of zinc in the blood suffer higher mortality and a longer recovery time.
Reveal that mortality in patients with less zinc level in blood it was 21 percent, compared to 5 percent of those with higher levels, according to the study, which has included in vitro tests in which the protective effect of this element was demonstrated in limiting the proliferation of the coronavirus in human cells.
Therefore, the doctors who have carried out the research have seen that supplementing with zinc in patients with covid-19 with low levels of this element it is a strategy to reduce mortality, recovery time and avoiding the worst effects of the disease in risk groups, such as older people.
The work, led by Robert Güerri, doctor of the Infectious Diseases Service of the Hospital del Mar, has analyzed the zinc levels of 249 adult patients treated at the center between March 9 and April 1, 2020, with a mean age of 65 years and with more frequent symptoms of fever, cough and dyspnea.
All these patients had their blood zinc levels analyzed, considering low levels those below 50 μ / dl.
“Zinc is an essential element for the maintenance of a great variety of biological processes, and the alteration of their levels causes an increase in the susceptibility to infections and an increase in the inflammatory response “.
“Therefore, given the comorbidities associated with zinc deficiency and its immunomodulatory and antiviral action, the levels of this element and its supplementation can be useful tools to treat cases of covid-19”, Güerri explained.
According to the study, it was observed that one in four patients had low levels of zinc and that this group had more severe symptoms, as well as higher levels of inflammation, measured using two markers, both C-reactive protein (PCR) such as interleukin 6 (IL-6), which indicate the inflammatory response.
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His hospital stay was, on average, 3 times longer than that of patients with higher zinc levels (25 days vs. 8).
Regarding mortality, zinc levels were significantly higher in patients who survived the infection, 62 μ / dl, compared to 49 μ / dl in those who died.
While one in 5 patients with low levels of this element died, those with higher levels at the time of admission to the hospital suffered a mortality rate of 5 percent.
Thus, the study reveals that the increase of one unit of zinc in blood plasma is directly linked to reducing the risk of dying from coronavirus by 7 percent.
“We have shown the importance of zinc levels in the blood of patients as an additional predictor of prognosis in covid-19, as well as its potential as a therapeutic tool for treatment. Thus, we propose this variable as a new parameter for predict the evolution of patients and we propose to initiate clinical trials on supplementing with zinc in low-level patients admitted with SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, “according to Güerri.
The research groups of Rubén Vicente and Juana Díez at the University (UPF) have been in charge of studying in parallel the effect of zinc levels on the virus’ ability to spread, using in vitro techniques.
The results obtained corroborate that the poor prognosis in patients with low concentrations of zinc is caused both by the effect that its deficiency causes on the immune imbalance and by the increase in viral load, since they observed that low levels of zinc promote viral expansion in infected cells.