To prevent Omicron, experts teach you 7 tips to enhance your immune system against COVID-19

Since 2019, the world has been grappling with a global pandemic caused by a coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2, leading to a highly infectious disease called COVID-19. This disease can result in severe acute respiratory syndrome, specific high-inflammatory responses, vascular damage, microvascular changes, angiogenesis, and extensive thrombus formation [1]. Currently, the primary global public health response centers around the administration of COVID-19 vaccines, with various vaccine options available [2]. After more than two years of this pandemic, Taiwan has also imported newly developed COVID-19 drugs for individuals with risk factors for severe disease and those diagnosed with mild to moderate COVID-19 [3]. Amid the ongoing pandemic, it’s crucial to continue taking measures to protect oneself from COVID-19 transmission, particularly as the Omicron variant, known for its high transmissibility, the potential for reinfections, and breakthrough infections, continues to spread [4].


What is COVID-19? What is Omicron?

SARS-CoV-2 is a novel human coronavirus responsible for the global pandemic of 2019, causing the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) worldwide [5]. COVID-19 diagnosis generally follows four clinical stages: the first stage is characterized by upper respiratory tract infections; the second stage involves respiratory distress and pneumonia onset; the third stage is marked by clinical deterioration dominated by a cytokine storm and severe inflammation; the fourth stage involves recovery or, in severe cases, death [1]. Several variants have been identified, including Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, with the Delta variant demonstrating increased resistance to public health control measures like mask-wearing and isolation [6]. Currently, the predominant variant is Omicron, initially discovered in South Africa, raising global concerns about its transmissibility, pathogenicity, and vaccine immunity. Increasing research indicates higher transmissibility and breakthrough infections with the Omicron variant [7].


What are the symptoms of Omicron infection?

The U.S. CDC has noted that most individuals infected with Omicron experience mild symptoms. However, the large number of mild cases in the community can strain the healthcare system. That’s why taking measures to protect oneself remains crucial [8]. Taiwan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare provides information on the clinical manifestations of confirmed COVID-19 cases, including fever, dry cough, fatigue, and approximately one-third of cases experiencing shortness of breath and low blood oxygen levels. Other symptoms may include muscle pain, headache, sore throat, diarrhea, and some cases even report the loss of smell or taste, or abnormal changes [9]. However, the Omicron variant typically causes milder or asymptomatic symptoms, but it can still lead to moderate or severe illness, especially in unvaccinated individuals [8].


How to prevent Omicron infection?

The Ministry of Health and Welfare recommends measures to prevent infection with the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). People should avoid direct contact with secretions from suspected COVID-19 cases and prevent airborne transmission. Related preventive measures include:

  • Stay updated and comply with the latest epidemic control policies announced by the Central Epidemic Command Center.
  • Maintain good hand hygiene, especially before meals and after using the toilet. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unclean hands.
  • Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated public places, and maintain social distancing (1 meter outdoors, 1.5 meters indoors) or wear masks.
  • Adhere to mask-wearing and other epidemic prevention measures when using public transportation.
  • Reduce visits to hospitals and other non-emergency medical needs.
  • Comply with relevant regulations if you are under home quarantine or isolation.
  • If you feel unwell, stop attending work or school and stay at home to rest. Contact health authorities promptly if medical care is required. Provide information about your travel history, contact history, occupation, and whether there are any clusters of cases among your family members or colleagues.
  • Adhere to COVID-19 vaccination policies and complete vaccinations as scheduled.

Regarding vaccination, current vaccines are effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death caused by Omicron variant infections. However, fully vaccinated individuals may still experience breakthrough infections. Vaccinated individuals have a reduced risk of severe disease compared to those who are unvaccinated. Therefore, it is recommended to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to reduce the risk of severe illness, in addition to following the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s guidelines [8].


What to do if you contract Omicron?

The Pharmacists Association recommends keeping common medications at home for individuals diagnosed with COVID-19:

  • Fever and pain relievers (acetaminophen).
  • Antihistamines (for runny nose).
  • Cough suppressants and expectorants.
  • Gastrointestinal medication and electrolyte supplements.
  • Thermometer and pulse oximeter.
  • Vitamin B and C supplements.

If you continue to feel unwell or your symptoms worsen, it is advisable to seek medical attention promptly.


Nutrient Supplements to Boost Immunity

  1. Vitamin D

    An analytical study of 14 research studies found that lower blood levels of vitamin D were associated with higher COVID-19 incidence and severity. The authors suggest that this evidence should be sufficient to recommend the use of vitamin D supplements for preventing or treating COVID-19. Vitamin D can reduce the risk of acute respiratory infections and COVID-19 through various pathways, such as decreasing virus survival and replication, reducing the risk of inflammatory cytokine production, and maintaining endothelial integrity.

  2. Vitamin C

    COVID-19 treatment options are limited, with a focus on supportive care. Clinical studies on respiratory infections have found that oral vitamin C (2-8 grams/day) can reduce the incidence and duration of respiratory infections. Research on using vitamin C to treat COVID-19 in confirmed patients is ongoing, with a focus on its potential to help with acute respiratory distress syndrome and multi-organ dysfunction.
    Studies suggest that vitamin C has positive effects on respiratory infections.

  3. Vitamin B

    Research indicates that vitamin B not only helps establish and maintain a healthy immune system but may also prevent or alleviate COVID-19 symptoms or support treatment of COVID-19 infection. Vitamin B contributes to appropriate stimulation of innate and adaptive immune responses, reduces proinflammatory cytokine levels, improves respiratory function, and maintains endothelial integrity, thus reducing hospitalization time for COVID-19 patients. This study concludes that vitamin B can be used as an adjunct in COVID-19 treatment.

  4. Minerals

    Zinc and selenium are important trace elements for the body’s immune response.

    • Zinc is involved in immune regulation, and its deficiency significantly increases proinflammatory cytokines.
      [14]. Zinc is considered a mineral to supplement during COVID-19 infection and has dual immune-regulating and antiviral properties, inhibiting coronavirus synthesis, replication, and transcription. Research shows that zinc supplements can reduce COVID-19-related symptoms, such as lower respiratory tract infections.
    • Selenium also has antioxidant abilities. A lack of selenium can lead to changes in immune response and viral pathogenicity. Studies have observed a correlation between selenium levels in the body and recovery rates after getting COVID-19.[16].
  5. Fish Oil

    Rich in Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), fish oil has a beneficial impact on immunity and inflammatory responses. Research has found that Omega-3 fatty acids can act against viruses by inhibiting influenza virus replication.
    [15]. According to experts from the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism, the use of Omega-3 fatty acids may help improve oxygenation in COVID-19 patients.
    [17]. A large-scale epidemiological study found that people who supplemented Omega-3 fatty acids were 12% less likely to contract COVID-19.

  6. Elderberry

    Elderberry has traditionally been used to prevent and treat respiratory diseases. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been increased discussion about elderberry supplements for treating or preventing viral respiratory diseases. An analysis of multiple experiments found that elderberry reduces the duration and severity of colds, making it a safe option for adjunct treatment of viral respiratory diseases.
    [19]. Another study found that elderberry inhibits the replication and attachment of human coronavirus NL63 (HCoV-NL63). While different from COVID-19, NL63 belongs to the same coronavirus family, making elderberry helpful in preventing coronavirus infections.

  7. Probiotics

    Research indicates that COVID-19 can cause an imbalance in the gut microbiota, and probiotics are helpful in treating respiratory viral infections. Regulating gut microbiota is considered to have a supportive role in preventing and treating COVID-19. Research has found that Lactobacillus paracasei can regulate the expression of immune response-related genes, preventing the expression of proinflammatory markers induced by COVID-19 infection and suppressing inflammatory infections, potentially preventing COVID-19 infections.
    [22]. Research also found that Lactobacillus fermentum has antiviral activity against influenza A and COVID-19, preventing diseases caused by respiratory viruses.
    [23]. Lactobacillus rhamnosus significantly reduces COVID-19 activity and inhibits the secretion of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a mediator of inflammatory storms.



To prevent COVID-19, it’s crucial to get vaccinated, wear masks, maintain social distance, avoid poorly ventilated spaces and crowds, wash your hands regularly, cover your coughs and sneezes, and monitor your health daily.
[13]. Good nutrition is also essential for maintaining a strong immune system, and the listed nutrients can help you enhance your immunity by incorporating them into your daily diet to prevent infections.


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