Many Americans are fed up with social isolation, worrying about loved ones and themselves, wearing masks, and delays in rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. Some are getting desperate and scouring the internet for outside-the-box, readily available ways to supposedly shore up their immune systems and ward off the virus, or even to self-treat infection itself. Unfortunately, their efforts are in vain if an article just published by JAMA Network Open is any indication. Researchers conducted a multicenter, single health system randomized clinical factorial open-label study of 214 adults in Florida and Ohio with an assay-confirmed diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 who were randomized to receive either 10 days of zinc gluconate (50 mg), ascorbic acid (8,000 mg), both agents, or standard of care for the virus. Primary endpoint was the number of days required to reach 50% reduction in symptoms (severity of fever, cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue). The team concluded that neither of the supplements had any impact on the course of symptoms. In fact, the trial was stopped early due to the “futility” of the regimen. Urgent care providers should be aware of the results in case patients ask for recommendations for over-the-counter products to combat the symptoms of COVID-19. Further, point out to patients that even “natural” supplements can interact with medications to elicit unpleasant or even dangerous effects.
Be Aware: Patients May Be Reaching for Unorthodox Methods of Dealing with COVID-19