A new study is claiming that a cocktail of the mineral zinc, the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, and the antibiotic azithromycin lead to fewer hospitalizations and deaths in patients with COVID-19.
Of 518 COVID-19 patients who were not hospitalized, 2.8% of those who were treated with the combination therapy were hospitalized compared to 15.4% in a control group who received no treatment. In the treatment group of 141 patients, just one patient died compared to 13 of 377 patients who received no treatments.
It’s important to note that the research has not yet been peer-reviewed, meaning other researchers have not yet had a chance to examine the data and the methods used to conduct the study. (According to Yahoo Finance, it has been submitted for peer review.) Also, no information on the demographics of the patients included nor was information on the severity of the disease disclosed.
All the patients in the study were treated by Vladimir Zelenko, MD, a New York-based physician who has become one of the most vocal doctors in favor of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment. Data analysis was conducted by Roland Derwand, MD, and Martin Scholz, Ph.D.
“Hydroxychloroquine’s main function within this treatment approach is to allow zinc to enter the cell,” Zelenko said in a statement. “Zinc is the virus killer, and azithromycin prevents secondary bacterial infection in the lungs and reduces the risk of pulmonary complications.”
There is no clear evidence that zinc acts as a “virus killer,” as Zelenko claims. Some studies for the common cold, which is a different type of coronavirus, indicate that zinc can inhibit the virus’s replication making it more difficult to bind to cells and lessen the duration of symptoms. However, the outcomes from zinc and common cold studies wouldn’t necessarily be the same as with zinc and COVID-19.
Last month, the FDA withdrew its emergency use authorization of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 due to a lack of evidence of the drug’s efficacy against the disease and a review finding the risks associated with the drug don’t outweigh its benefits.
Also, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that was just published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that hydroxychloroquine did not meaningfully reduce symptom severity in patients with early, mild COVID-19 compared to placebo. The trial included 491 patients in 40 states and Canada.
A news release announcing the results of the Zelenko trial said that the triple therapy was well tolerated with no reported cardiac side effects. However, information about other side effects was not disclosed.