Researchers at the Fatty Acid Research Institute (FARI) and staff at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centers in Los Angeles and Orange County, California have released the first direct evidence that higher blood omega-3 levels may lower the risk of death from COVID-19 COVID infection. The report was published in the journal Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids on January 20, 2021.

There are several publications in the medical literature that hypothesize that omega-3 fatty acids should have beneficial effects in patients with COVID-19 infection, but to date no peer-reviewed studies have been published to support this hypothesis.

This study included 100 patients who had been hospitalized with COVID-19 and had been retained for receiving blood samples. The clinical results of these patients were obtained and the blood was analyzed for the omega-3 index (O3I, EPA + DHA levels of the red blood cell membrane) at OmegaQuant Analytics (Sioux Falls, SD). Fourteen of the patients died.

The 100 patients were divided into four quartiles based on their O3I, with 25% of the patients in each quartile. There was one top quartile death (ie 1 death in 25 patients with O3I> 5.7%), with 13 deaths in the remaining patients (ie 13 deaths in 75 patients with O3I

In age- and gender-adjusted regression analyzes, the risk of death in those in the highest quartile (O3I> 5.7%) was 75% lower than in those in the lower three quartiles (p = 0.07). In other words, those with a lower O3I had a relative risk of death about four times higher (

“While this pilot study does not meet the standard statistical significance thresholds, this pilot study – along with several lines of evidence regarding the anti-inflammatory effects of EPA and DHA – strongly suggests that these nutritionally available marine fatty acids may contribute to reducing the risk of adverse outcomes in COVID- 19 Clearly, larger studies are needed to confirm these preliminary results, “said Arash Asher, MD, lead author of this study.

In accordance with Dr. Asher, cardiology researcher and co-developer of the Omega-3 Index with Dr. Harris, said Clemens von Schacky, MD, (CEO, Omegametrix GmbH, Martinsried, Germany, and not involved in the study): “Asher et al. have shown that a low omega-3 index could be a strong predictor of death from COVID-19. While encouraging, their findings clearly need to be replicated. “

Omega-3 expert James H. O’Keefe, Jr., MD, (director of preventive cardiology, Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, Kansas City, MO, also not involved in the study) observed, “An excessive inflammatory response , known as a “cytokine storm,” is a fundamental mediator of severe COVID-19 disease. Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) have potent anti-inflammatory effects, and this pilot study provides evidence that these fatty acids may dampen the cytokine storm of COVID-19. ”

The FARI research team is currently looking for funding to expand on these preliminary observations. Individuals and organizations wishing to support this research are encouraged to visit FARI’s donation page.


Media inquiries:

Bill Harris,
President, FARI


Phone: + 1-913-302-9433


About the Fatty Acid Research Institute (FARI)

The Fatty Acid Research Institute (FARI) is a non-profit research and education foundation. FARI was founded to accelerate the discovery of the health effects of fatty acids, particularly the long chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. FARI researchers and scientists will be single-mindedly focused on publishing high quality research studies on the diverse relationships between fatty acid levels and human (and animal) health outcomes. These studies will improve the ability to predict disease risk and, more importantly, suggest ways to reduce the risk by changing our diet and / or supplements.

About the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Cedars-Sinai is a nonprofit academic health organization serving the diverse community of Los Angeles and beyond. Cedars-Sinai is setting new standards for quality and innovation in patient care with groundbreaking medical research, educational programs that shape the future of healthcare, and wide-ranging nonprofit activities.

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