Plain language summary
Coronaviruses are a family of enveloped RNA viruses capable of infecting both humans and animals. A robust immune system has general protective effects against disease infection and severity. Micronutrients are shown to be fundamental in strengthening and maintaining immune function. The aim of this study was to systematically assess the associations between micronutrient supplementation or deficiency, with novel coronavirus incidence and its associated severity. This study is a systematic review and meta-analysis of 19 studies. Only literature on COVID-19 induced by SARS-CoV-2 were recovered from the systematic search. Results demonstrate significantly reduced odds of COVID-19 incidence, and ICU admissions or severe/critical disease onset in individuals without micronutrient deficiency. Authors conclude that integrating micronutrients into the prevention and therapeutic management of COVID-19 may complement nonpharmaceutical interventions to reduce the risk of transmission and disease severity in an unvaccinated population.
BACKGROUND Micronutrients play roles in strengthening and maintaining immune function, but their supplementation and/or deficiency effects on respiratory tract infections are inconclusive. This review aims to systematically assess the associations between micronutrient supplementation or deficiency, with novel coronavirus incidence and disease severity. METHODS Systematic literature searches conducted in five electronic databases identified 751 unique studies, of which 33 studies (five supplementation studies, one supplementation and deficiency study, and 27 deficiency studies) were eventually included in this review. Proportions of incidence and severity outcomes in each group, and adjusted summary statistics with their relevant 95% confidence intervaIs (CI) were extracted. Data from 19 studies were pooled in meta-analysis using the generic inverse variance method. FINDINGS A total of 360,346 patients across 16 countries, with a mean age between 32 and 87.7 years, were involved across 33 studies. All studies were on COVID-19 infections. In individuals without micronutrient deficiency, there was a significant reduction on odds of COVID-19 incidence (pooled OR: 0.37, 95% CI: 0.18, 0.78), and ICU admissions or severe/critical disease onset when combined as a severity outcome (pooled OR: 0.26, 95% CI: 0.08, 0.89). Insignificant protective effects were observed on other outcome measures, namely mortality, ICU admission, progression to respiratory-related complications, severe/critical disease onset or requiring respiratory support and hospitalization rate. CONCLUSION The absence of micronutrient deficiency significantly reduced COVID-19 incidence and clinical deterioration in hospitalized patients. Usage of micronutrients as prophylaxis and complementary supplement in therapeutic management of COVID-19 patients may be a promising and cost-effective approach warranting in-depth investigation.