Supplement treatment does not affect COVID-19 symptoms, study finds

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High-dose zinc and ascorbic acid supplementation has little effect on symptom length or hospitalization rates among novel coronavirus (COVID-19) patients, according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

The randomized clinical trial enrolled 214 patients with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection receiving outpatient care in Ohio and Florida from April 27, 2020, to October 14, 2020. Patients were randomized in a 1:1:1:1 allocation ratio to receive either 10 days of 50 milligrams zinc gluconate, 8,000 milligrams ascorbic acid, both agents, or standard of care.

The primary end point was the number of days required to reach a 50 percent reduction in symptoms, including severity of fever, cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue, rated on a four-point scale for each symptom. Secondary end points included days required to reach a total symptom severity score of zero, cumulative severity score at day five, hospitalizations, deaths, adjunctive prescribed medications, and adverse effects of the study supplements, according to the study.

The study was stopped for a low conditional power for benefit with no significant difference among the four groups for the primary end point. Patients who received usual care without supplementation achieved a 50 percent reduction in symptoms at a mean of 6.7 days compared with 5.5 days for the ascorbic acid group, 5.9 days for the zinc gluconate group, and 5.5 days for the group receiving both. There was no significant difference in secondary outcomes among the treatment groups.

Ultimately, the authors concluded treatment with high-dose zinc gluconate, ascorbic acid, or a combination of the two supplements did not significantly decrease the duration of symptoms compared with standard of care.

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