Update on Corona virus

August 26, 2020

Since the last newsletter from May 28, things have gone well here in Denmark.
On the other hand, viruses have become widespread, especially in those countries that have not taken the spreading of infection seriously.
In the past month, however, localized infection clusters have emerged in various places here in Denmark as well, especially in immigrant communities.
The reasons for this have been mentioned in the previous newsletters, whose advice is still valid, so I will not repeat it here, but instead focus on what has happened in the last 3 months.

In a literature study(1) from Norwegian, Russian and Swedish public health institutes six researchers have concluded that early intervention with Zinc, Selenium and Vitamin-D can alleviate the course of the disease, and virtually prevent the cytokine storm, which is the process responsible for the destruction of tissues, microthromboses, inflammation, etc. -the whole cascade that can take the life of the Covid-19 sick persons.

An almost simultaneous study(2) from Germany analyzed Serum-Selenium and Serum-Selenoprotein P, and both values were significantly lower in those who did not survive Covid-19.
(Selenium: 53.3 ± 16.2 vs. 40.8 ± 8.1 μg / l, Selenoprotein-P: 3.3 ± 1.3 vs. 2.1 ± 0.9 mg / L p<0.001). These results must be said to be highly relevant in our country, where we consume so little selenium. This study falls nicely in line with the former study.

On August 3, an article was published in the Lancet(3) which strongly calls for increased intake of vitamin D based on solid literature reviews.
This also falls in line with the first study mentioned above.

And, finally, there is a meta-analysis(4) of the role of vitamin D in the development of acute respiratory infection. It includes 30,000 people in controlled trials (RCTs), and has shown significantly reduced risk of acute respiratory infection already at 10-25 µg of vitamin D daily.
This confirms a previous meta-analysis(5), which also found a significant inverse correlation between the risk of acute respiratory infection and the vitamin D content in the blood.
All of the above studies are nicely in line with the advice mentioned in the five newsletters from May.

Authorities distribute vitamins
Azerbaijan has registered 35,000 Covid-19 cases in a population of 10 million. Of these, 1,800 were hospitalized and 508 died.
Here, the Ministry of Health has provided more than 3,500 Covid-19 patients with a free “medicine package” containing: Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Magnesium, Selenium, Zinc and Paracetamol.
The idea is then that the patients stay at home and treat themselves there.
Every day they are then contacted by the local hospital clinic and have to answer a series of questions, just as the doctor checks that they are taking their pills.
So far, a significant reduction in the number of hospitalizations in this group has been observed(6).

You can only shout cheers when you see authorities who can think outside the box and dare to start such a project. My guess is that the trend will continue and that home treatment will continue to reduce hospital admissions in Azerbaijan.

The idea is not bad because you initiate a completely harmless treatment of a, for some people, -dangerous disease.
But why wait until they get sick?

With timely care, one can improve the immune system of the entire population if one simply provides information about these supplements and their significance.

What could be done here in Denmark is to provide subsidies to the vulnerable groups, especially residents of the country’s nursing homes, who are completely dependent on the public perception of vitamins and minerals. If their own doctor does not prescribe a vitamin supplement, then residents are often denied help to get the supplements, despite their own desire. They are completely dependent upon the doctor’s knowledge or lack thereof. I think Danish authorities and medical staff would be shocked if we measured the level of vitamin D in the country’s nursing home residents.
If you do not want to use public funds to donate these subsidies to the residents, then you can at least make sure that both residents and their relatives are informed.

These newsletters on Covid-19 are unfortunately necessary as this knowledge and the scientific back-up are neglected in the public advice to the Danish population.

Take care of yourself and others

Claus Hancke MD
Specialist in general medicine


  1. Alexander J, Alehagen U et al. (2020) Early Nutritional Interventions with Zinc, Selenium and Vitamin D for Raising Anti-Viral Resistance Against Progressive COVID-19. Nutrients 2020, 12, 2358.
  2. Moghaddam A, Heller R et al. (2020) Selenium Deficiency Is Associated with Mortality Risk from COVID-19. Nutrients 2020, 12, 2098.
  3. Martineau A, Forouhi N (2020) Vitamin-D for Covid-19: a case to answer. Lancet 2020;8:735-6.
  4. Joliffe D, Martineau A, Damsgaard Camilla et al. (2020) Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory infections: Systematic review and meta-analysis of aggregate data from randomised controlled trials. medRxiv BMJ (endnu ikke peer reviewed) 17.juli 2020.
  5. Martineau A et al. (2017) Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: Systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data.
    BMJ 2017;356:i6585.
  6. lmahamad A, (2020) 3.500 covid-19 patients provided with free medication. Azernews 18.august 2020. https://www.azernews.az/healthcare/168099.html

Zinc is important for the immune system

– also for Covid-19 disease

May 18 2020

In continuation of the previous two newsletters on Vitamin D and Selenium, a little important information about Zinc and its importance to the immune system is now presented here.

In these corona times, it is especially necessary that we each optimize our immune system so that we are well prepared for a possible new wave in about half a year from now, when people’s deposits of vitamin D again are declining.

In the Western part of the world, about 25% of the population has some level of zinc deficiency, especially the elderly, people with high alcohol consumption, people with chronic infections, those who get certain types of medicine, and elite athletes, who use up their magnesium and zinc.

Zinc is part of more than 200 different enzyme systems and is a prerequisite for normal growth and cell formation and a well-functioning immune system.

There is solid evidence that zinc deficiency leads to increased susceptibility to infection. Since zinc supplementation has also been found to reduce the duration of a cold, various zinc lozenges have been tried, and a Cochrane study of 18 studies found that 75 mg of zinc a day could reduce the duration of cold symptoms in healthy people, provided the zinc tablets were given within the first 24 hours after symptom onset.

The effect lies, among other things, in the skin and mucous membranes, where zinc is necessary for the cell replication that the body initiates when an infection is to be fought. This is especially true regarding the growth, maturation and differentiation of circulating lymphocytes, T cells and the killer cells, NK cells that we need to fight viruses.

In 2010, an in vitro study showed that zinc inhibits another coronavirus, namely SARS-CoV, which caused an epidemic in 2002. Zinc has a direct antiviral effect by inhibiting SARS-CoV RNA polymerase, which is a prerequisite for virus replication.

There is no specific study yet on the effect of zinc on the current CoV-Sars-2, but natural connections are looked for and, for example, the current Covid-19 disease is characterized by many people’s losing the sense of taste and smell, which is also seen in the case of zinc deficiency.
But it could be coincidence.

We have to take zinc all the time, as it is not stored specifically. It is not difficult to get enough zinc here in Denmark, just by eating real food and not industrial synthetic ‘plastic’ food. Zinc is found in meat, seafood, organ meat, fish, eggs, legumes, cereals, dairy products, green vegetables, fruits and berries. An intake of 20-30 mg per day is enough.

If you take zinc as a supplement, remember that it can reduce the copper content of the body, as zinc will upregulate the metallothionein synthesis, which can cause copper loss. This is probably not of great importance here in Denmark, where a large pig production has given us all a solid copper supplement.

In any case, we need zinc to optimize our immune system, so we are ready to fight an virus infection.

Now you have read about vitamin D, selenium and zinc in relation to the immune system.
The next newsletter to arm your immune system against Covid-19 will be about Vitamin C.

Take care of yourself and others,

Claus Hancke, MD,
Specialist in general medicine


  • Read Scott A, Obeid S et al. The role of Zinc in antiviral immunity.(2019) Adv Nutr 2019;10:696–710
  • Skalny et al: Zinc and respiratory tract infections: Perspectives for Covid-19. Int J Molecular Med. April 13, 2020
  • Mossad S, Macknin M, Mendendorp S, et al. Zinc Gluconate Lozenges for Treating the Common Cold: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Annals of Internal Medicine 15 July 1996
  • Velthuis AJW, van den Worm SHE, Sims AC, Baric RS, Snijder EJ, van Hemert MJ (2010). Zn2+ Inhibits Coronavirus and Arterivirus RNA Polymerase Activity In Vitro and Zinc Ionophores Block the Replication of These Viruses in Cell Culture. PLoS Pathog 6(11): e1001176.
  • Shankar AH, Prasad AS. Zinc and immune function: The biological basis of altered resistance to infection. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Aug;68 (2 Suppl): 447S-463S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/68.2.447S.
  • Singh M, Das RR. Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD001364. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001364.pub4
  • Yoshimura A, Naka T, Kubo M. SOCS proteins, cytokine signalling and immune regulation. Nat Rev Immunol 2007;7(6):454–65.

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Joseph E. Pizzorno Jr., Michael T. Murrey & Melvyn R. Werbach.