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

post by Rudi C (rudi-c) · 2020-08-24T20:58:33.962Z · LW · GW · 6 comments

This is a question post.

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?

Answers

answer by River (Frank Bellamy) · 2020-08-25T02:33:25.402Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

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

comment by ChristianKl · 2020-08-25T13:01:44.410Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

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. 

comment by Rudi C (rudi-c) · 2020-08-25T22:26:10.766Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

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 ...

Replies from: PeterMcCluskey
comment by PeterMcCluskey · 2020-08-26T03:46:46.270Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Trump 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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comment by Jonathan_Graehl · 2020-08-24T22:30:08.671Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've been sucking zinc acetate lozenges daily and haven't got sick, so it's obviously working.

Replies from: siclabomines
comment by siclabomines · 2020-08-24T22:38:17.122Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

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