UK links dietary selenium with outcome of COVID-19

06 May 2020 | News

The researchers found that the Covid-19 cure rate was significantly associated with selenium status Image credit- shutterstock.com Image credit- shutterstock.com

An international team of researchers, led by Professor Margaret Rayman at the University of Surrey, UK has identified a link between the Covid-19 cure rate and regional selenium status in China.

Selenium is an essential trace element obtained from the diet (i.e. fish, meat and cereals) which has been found to affect the severity of a number of viral diseases in animals and humans. For example selenium status in those with HIV has been shown to be an important factor in the progression of the virus to AIDs and death from the condition.

China is known to have populations that have both the lowest and highest selenium status in the world, due to geographical differences in the soil which affects how much of the trace element gets into the food chain. 

Examining data from provinces and municipalities with more than 200 cases and cities with more than 40 cases, researchers found that areas with high levels of selenium were more likely to recover from the virus.

For example, in the city of Enshi in Hubei Province, which has the highest selenium intake in China, the cure rate (percentage of Covid-19 patients declared ‘cured’) was almost three-times higher than the average for all the other cities in Hubei Province. 

By contrast, in Heilongjiang Province, where selenium intake is among the lowest in the world, the death rate from Covid-19 was almost five-times as high as the average of all the other provinces outside of Hubei.

Most convincingly, the researchers found that the Covid-19 cure rate was significantly associated with selenium status, as measured by the amount of selenium in hair, in 17 cities outside of Hubei. 

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