Does Zinc deficiency Affect COVID-19 Outcomes?

SARS-CoV-2 has a variety of outcomes, from severe symptoms to mild and asymptomatic pathologies. A team of researchers in Spain hypothesize that the serum zinc levels significantly affect the COVID-19 progression. Zinc is an essential element required. It acts as a signaling molecule, structural element, and cofactor. Zinc balances our immune responses. It affects the adaptive and innate immunity. Zinc deficiency is most common in the elderly and individuals with underlying diseases. In the retrospective, observational study, 249 patients with COVID-19 were included and studied for the severity of COVID-19, along with disease progression.

The replication of SARS-CoV-2 in the Vero E6 cell line at various concentrations of zinc was analyzed. Patients with serum zinc levels less than 50 mcg/dL exhibited worse clinical presentation at admission. These had higher mortality and took longer to attain stability. In vitro studies revealed that lower zinc concentrations favored viral expansion is cells affected with SARS-CoV-2. Zinc deficiency remains a major concern even in developed countries where the prevalence ranges from 15-31% in the elderly population. The researchers recommend promoting zinc supplementation programs especially for the elderly.

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