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COVID-19: is there a role for immunonutrition, particularly in the over 65s?
  1. Emma Derbyshire and
  2. Joanne Delange
  1. Nutritional Insight, Surrey, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Emma Derbyshire, Nutritional Insight, Surrey KT17 2AA, UK; emma{at}


In late December 2019 severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) first emerged in Wuhan, Hubei, China, resulting in the potentially fatal COVID-19. It went on to be officially recognised as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on 11 March 2020. While many public health strategies have evolved, there has been little mention of the immune system and how this could be strengthened to help protect against viral infections such as SARS-CoV-2. The present paper evaluates the current evidence base relating to immunonutrition, with a particular focus on respiratory viruses. Within the nutrition sector a promising body of evidence studying inter-relationships between certain nutrients and immune competence already exists. This could potentially be an important player in helping the body to deal with the coronavirus, especially among elders. Evidence for vitamins C, D and zinc and their roles in preventing pneumonia and respiratory infections (vitamins C and D) and reinforcing immunity (zinc) appears to look particularly promising. Ongoing research within this important field is urgently needed.

  • nutrient deficiencies
  • infectious disease
  • pulmonary disease
  • preventive counselling

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Contributors ED, with her nutritional expertise, contributed to conceptualising and writing the main manuscript. JD, with her virology expertise, contributed to and edited the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests ED consults for the Healthcare Supplement Information Service, British Summer Fruits and UK Food Advisory Board but did not receive funding for writing this article nor its open access fees. ED has a lung condition herself called bronchiectasis, and so was genuinely interested in the research underpinning this field and the importance of its communication. Open access fees were funded by Nutritional Insight for which ED is the Director.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data sharing not applicable as no data sets generated and/or analysed for this study. Data are available upon reasonable request. No data are available.

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