Sucking on zinc lozenges is no "silver bullet" to help fight back against the novel coronavirus, but Dr. Joe Schwarcz, the director of the McGill Office for Science and Society, says it "cannot be ruled out" that they might have some benefits despite "no supporting studies" to back the theory.
Zinc lozenges have long been believed to shorten the duration of a common cold, even if they don't cure it. But now, amid the coronavirus crisis, a blog claims they are the "silver bullet," writes Schwarcz.
But Schwarcz says that the person creating the blog post, which is credited to Dr. James Robb, a pathologist who worked with coronaviruses in the 1970s, "twisted the information until it dripped nonsense all over the blogosphere."
Robb pointed to research that showed how many viruses can be inhibited by exposure to zinc, including the virus causing COVID-19, but noted he had no experimental support to back up the claim, said Schwarcz. However, he suggested people should suck on the lozenges while lying down if "cold-like" symptoms are there.
Zinc is an essential mineral important in wound healing, immune system function, eyesight, and more. But the first possibility that it could help fight viruses occurred in 1980, when doctors treated a 3-year-old girl who had chronic colds with a 50 mg zinc gluconate tablet. She wouldn't swallow the tablet but would ingest the zinc as if it was in a lozenge. Her symptoms were resolved.
Trials have been divided, but a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, detailed how 50 volunteers either took 13 mg of zinc or a placebo if they had cold symptoms. The zinc group's colds lasted about 4.5 days, compared to 8 days for the placebo group.
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