Is copper beneficial for COVID-19 patients?

Medical hypotheses. 2020;142:109814

Plain language summary

Copper (Cu) is an essential micronutrient that plays an important role in both the innate and adaptive immune response. It has been shown that Cu-deficient humans show increased susceptibility to viral infections. While there is no current vaccine or drug available for the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), it is critical to identify ways to slow the spread until treatments are found. The aim of this study was to review available data and explore whether increased Cu-levels can boost the immunity in people at risk of COVID-19. While there is a definitive need for clinical trials, the available research does show an association between Cu-deficiency and a weakened immune system. Also, current models for optimal Cu intake indicate that a large portion of the United States population may have Cu-deficiency. Based on this available data, the authors conclude that Cu supplementation may have a protective effect against COVID-19, especially in people at risk for Cu-deficiency.


Copper (Cu) is an essential micronutrient for both pathogens and the hosts during viral infection. Cu is involved in the functions of critical immune cells such as T helper cells, B cells, neutrophils natural killer (NK) cells, and macrophages. These blood cells are involved in the killing of infectious microbes, in cell-mediated immunity and the production of specific antibodies against the pathogens. Cu-deficient humans show an exceptional susceptibility to infections due to the decreased number and function of these blood cells. Besides, Cu can kill several infectious viruses such as bronchitis virus, poliovirus, human immunodeficiency virus type 1(HIV-1), other enveloped or nonenveloped, single- or double-stranded DNA and RNA viruses. Moreover, Cu has the potent capacity of contact killing of several viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. Since the current outbreak of the COVID-19 continues to develop, and there is no vaccine or drugs are currently available, the critical option is now to make the immune system competent to fight against the SARS-CoV-2. Based on available data, we hypothesize that enrichment of plasma copper levels will boost both the innate and adaptive immunity in people. Moreover, owing to its potent antiviral activities, Cu may also act as a preventive and therapeutic regime against COVID-19.

Lifestyle medicine

Patient Centred Factors : Mediators/Covid-19/Copper
Environmental Inputs : Nutrients
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition
Functional Laboratory Testing : Not applicable
Bioactive Substances : Copper

Methodological quality

Allocation concealment : Not applicable
Publication Type : Journal Article


Nutrition Evidence keywords : Innate immunity ; Adaptive immunity ; Supplementation ; Virus