Scientists explored the role vitamins could play in the fight against Covid-19

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  • Vitamins D, K and A could help fight Covid 19
  • Daily vitamins and other antiviral medicines can help reduce infectivity
  • Cholesterol is linked to strengthening the virus's chances of progressing 

Vitamin D – and possibly vitamins K and A - could help combat Covid-19, according to a new study.

Drugs and vitamins that fight Covid-19

The study published in Angewandte Chemie, the journal of the German Chemical Society, has revealed that vitamins and other antiviral drugs may work against the virus. The research indicates that these dietary supplements and compounds could bind to the viral spike protein and, in turn, the reduce SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Researchers looked at approved drugs and vitamins to identify those which might have an effect on the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, making the virus less infective. The findings of the study also revealed that dexamethasone – an effective Covid-19 treatment, may also help reduce viral infectivity, in addition to its effects on the human immune system.

The results of the study suggest that several drug candidates have the potential to bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, helping to prevent cell entry. The simulations by the scientists also predicted that the fat-soluble vitamins D, K and A bind to the spikes and weaken their ability to infect cells.

"Our findings help explain how some vitamins may play a more direct role in combatting Covid than their conventional support of the human immune system,” says Dr Deborah Shoemark, Senior Research Associate, in a news release.

"Obesity is a major risk factor for severe Covid. Vitamin D is fat-soluble and tends to accumulate in fatty tissue. This can lower the amount of vitamin D available in obese individuals. Countries in which some of these vitamin deficiencies are more common have also suffered badly during the course of the pandemic.

"Our research suggests that some essential vitamins and fatty acids, including linoleic acid, may contribute to impeding the spike/ACE2 interaction. Deficiency in any one of them may make it easier for the virus to infect," Shoemark explains.

Cholesterol may increase infectivity

The study also showed that cholesterol may increase infectivity, which could explain why having high cholesterol is considered a risk factor for serious disease. Pre-existing high cholesterol levels are linked to a higher risk of severe Covid-19. 

 “We know that the use of cholesterol-lowering statins reduces the risk of developing severe Covid and shortens recovery time in less severe cases.

"Whether cholesterol destabilises the "benign", closed conformation or not, our results suggest that by directly interacting with the spike, the virus could sequester cholesterol to achieve the local concentrations required to facilitate cell entry, and this may also account for the observed loss of circulating cholesterol post-infection,” says Shoemaker. 

READ| Are all hypertension patients at risk of severe Covid-19?

READ| Understanding ivermectin for humans vs what's available for animal use. We speak to vet experts 

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