Hydroxychloroquine (and other zinc ionophores), in combination with Zinc for the treatment of COVID-19

By Benjamin Vazsonyi

August 17, 2020

Note from Shauna Reisewitz: Benjamin Vazsonyi is a student of Pacific Sands Academy. He has been following the Corona Virus story since January, looking deeply at all aspects of it- medical, political, social implications. Most recently, Benjamin has been studying the biochemical possibilities of potential cures. I encouraged him to write this article to share his ideas- I believe his thought process here is operating at a level where he could really discuss these ideas with medical researchers open to alternatives.

There has been lots of discussion about whether or not Hydrochloroquine and Zinc (HCQ+ Zn) is an effective treatment against COVID-19, at least in non-mainstream medical journals and scientific news outlets. In theory, Hydroxychloroquine and Zinc may work as an antiviral combination against SARS-CoV-2. Chloroquine, a synthetic form of Quinine, is a zinc ionophore. Hydroxychloroquine is a form of Chloroquine with reduced side effects.

What is a zinc  Ionophore? 

A zinc ionophore is a chemical which carries zinc ions through the cell membrane. Elemental zinc cannot pass through the cell membrane on its own. 

What is the mechanism? How would  Zinc (once inside the cells) combat Sars-CoV-2?

Once zinc is inside the cell, it can inhibit the RNA Polymerase activity of coronaviruses (in vitro, or outside the body), which include SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV-2 being the virus that causes COVID-19.

Many people may take the Xue et al study (from above) and argue that HCQ and Zn are ineffective against COVID-19, because in this study  most of the zinc ends up in the lysosomes, where the zinc kills the cell. However, there are a few issues with this conclusion.  One issue is that 300 uM chloroquine across a relatively small number of cells would be a massive dose of chloroquine. It’s possible that this dose of chloroquine would flood the lysosomes with zinc and kill the cells. That was the goal of the study (to look for a treatment that could kill cancerous cells).

However in the fight against Coronavirus, we aren’t trying to kill cells; instead, we are trying to block the replication of a virus, so taking a lower dose of HCQ could distribute the zinc across the cell, and the zinc would have a chance of blocking the replication of the virus in this case. 

How has this been looked at in practice? 

An observational study on hospitalized patients was conducted, and it was trying to investigate whether or not the addition of zinc would change the outcome in patients. They found that the addition of Zinc significantly reduced the rate of admission to the ICU. They also found that once patients were critically ill, the use of Hydroxychloroquine and zinc didn’t change the outcome of patients with regards to mortality or going to the ICU, which further confirms the theory that the combination of HCQ and Zn has an antiviral effect. This may sound counterintuitive; however,https://nutritionalpharmacology.wordpress.com/2020/03/21/combating-covid-19-with-zinc-and-quercetin/ antiviral medications work by blocking the replication of viruses. Once the cytokine storm begins, and the virus has reached its peak in an individual, antiviral medications are useless. However, this initial result was found:  

In univariate analyses, zinc sulfate increased the frequency of patients being discharged home, and decreased the need for ventilation, admission to the ICU, and mortality or transfer to hospice for patients who were never admitted to the ICU. After adjusting for the time at which zinc sulfate was added to our protocol, an increased frequency of being discharged home (OR 1.53, 95% CI 1.12-2.09) reduction in mortality or transfer to hospice remained significant (OR 0.449, 95% CI 0.271-0.744).  ( Carlucci et al.  – has not yet been peer reviewed)

When we look at these two studies together, we can see that there is a strong possibility that with the correct dose, hydroxychloroquine and zinc can have an antiviral effect against SARS-CoV-2.

Even if HCQ+ Zn doesn’t have an antiviral effect against SARS-CoV-2, there are many other Zinc ionophores which may work. Quercetin is one of them, and it’s available over the counter. HCQ requires a prescription, which in some countries, is illegal to prescribe for COVID-19. In this study, Quercetin was shown to be a Zinc Ionophore.  

We need more data on Quercetin and HCQ as a zinc ionophore (for future coronaviruses), but for right now, the combination of HCQ and Zn should be used because at the correct dose, because HCQ and Quercetin have very mild side effects and there is some evidence that shows that HCQ+ Zn works. 

Several problems exist with most mainstream HCQ studies:
Huge doses, No Zn, given to patients too late, fraudulent data, problems with collecting data, or a combination of the above.

DISCLAIMER: This article was researched and written by a student of Pacific Sands Academy and does not constitute medical advice.

I believe in interest-led, self-directed learning. I love helping teens find lives of passion and fulfillment outside of traditional academia.

Posted in Uncategorized
2 comments on “Hydroxychloroquine (and other zinc ionophores), in combination with Zinc for the treatment of COVID-19
  1. Chris Chiang says:

    Dear Shauna Reisewitz, I love seeing students feel the passion to get involved in the world right now. I would urge any students who write of medical treatments give really bold disclaimers. Discussion of hydroxychloroquine isn’t just about studies, but the dangers of non-doctors and scientists drowning out the voices of science. Power to Benjamin to keep on his research, and young people have indeed uncovered life-changing science, keep working hard since there are no easy discoveries. Part of that journey is also learning the power and danger of how words and ideas can be received. It’s why scientists privately send their work to other scientists rather than the press when they are not yet certain, versus politicians speak to the press before things are certain.

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