Zinc has gotten a lot of attention as a treatment for COVID-19 in combination with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. But an even more basic use of zinc has many wondering if it could be effective against SARS-CoV2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

For decades, zinc has been used to treat colds. Since the common cold is also caused by a coronavirus, people have speculated that zinc might be effective with this one.

A review of 16 therapeutic trials showed that use of zinc lozenges was associated with a significant reduction in the duration of common cold symptoms like coughing, headache, nasal congestion and drainage, and sore throat. It’s unclear if zinc supplementation can prevent you from catching a cold.

For colds, the typical dose is one zinc lozenge dissolved in your mouth every two hours while you’re awake when symptoms are present. Side effects can include a bad taste in your mouth and nausea.

Zinc lozenges have been proven to be effective in blocking most viruses from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx. Still, it’s important to understand there’s no data at this point to prove that zinc has any effect on this coronavirus, whether in decreasing your chances of being infected with COVID-19 or improving your ability to recover from it.