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Why hasn't there been research on the effectiveness of zinc for Covid-19?

by Rudi C1 min read24th Aug 20206 comments


Covid-19EconomicsMarket InefficiencyWorld Modeling
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There was significant interest in zinc early on. It seemed like one of the most promising avenues for protecting oneself against Covid-19. Searching on both Google and Lesswrong itself, I do not see new research on it. (This is the closest thing I found; A metareview that says there is almost no research whatsoever.) Its epistemic status seems frozen in the pre-Covid past: promising experimental treatment with no significant evidence confirming or disconfirming it, and no largescale commercialization and deployment.


This seems quite an inefficient result, if my understanding is correct. What has gone wrong?

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My guess: Zinc isn't patentable, nobody can make money from selling it so nobody will do research to see if it works.

While that might be what's driving it there are ways around it. Zinc isn't directly patentable but you could patent a specific way to package it.

I could imagine packing it in Lozenges with copper might be a good idea. Taking a lot of Zinc reduces your copper absorption, so that you need to consume more copper when taking a lot of Zinc. It's also possible that the copper helps directly. 

But wouldn't governments have a big incentive to do this? Even for private companies, it can bring them a lot of goodwill for presumably not that much money ...

2PeterMcCluskey8moTrump appears to have a big incentive to do this. Companies with experience at running clinical trials are probably busy testing more profitable treatments that would bring almost as much goodwill.
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I've been sucking zinc acetate lozenges daily and haven't got sick, so it's obviously working.

It's the placebo effect, obviously; you can't get sick if you zinc it works.