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Adding Zinc to Malaria Drug Mix May Help Covid-19 Patients Heal

May 11, 2020, 3:58 PM

Adding zinc to a cocktail of medicines touted by President Donald Trump may help Covid-19 patients survive and recover enough to be sent home from the hospital, according to researchers in New York City.

Zinc sulphate, a dietary supplement that many people use to fight off colds, has become an off-the-shelf option some doctors and hospitals have used to help battle the novel coronavirus that continues to spread globally. Doctors at NYU Grossman School of Medicine examined patient records at four hard-hit medical centers in the city and on Long Island to see if they could determine whether it held any promise.

A group of 411 patients given zinc along with the malaria medicine hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin for five days were 44% less likely to die and 50% more likely to be discharged home than a comparison group of 521 patients who didn’t get the supplement. The results were posted in medRxiv, where researchers share initial findings before they’re reviewed for medical journals.

“Our study offers the first evidence that patients treated with hydroxychloroquine may benefit from supplemental zinc therapy,” said Joseph Rahimian, the study’s senior investigator and an infectious disease specialist at NYU Langone Health.

The study didn’t find a reduction in the amount of time spent on a ventilator or in the hospital. More research, including rigorous scientifc studies, are needed to confirm the benefit.

Use of hydroxychloroquine, alone or in combination with an antibiotic, has spurred controversy. The medicine can cause such serious heart complications that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned against its use outside of carefully controlled settings. Demand for the medication surged after Trump advocated for its use.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Michelle Fay Cortez in Minneapolis at mcortez@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Drew Armstrong at darmstrong17@bloomberg.net

Reg Gale, Timothy Annett

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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