PRevention of COVID‑19 with high dose Oral Vitamin D supplemental Therapy in Essential healthCare Teams (PROTECT)

Ducharme, Francine M | $4,224,996

Quebec Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine 2020 CIHR Operating Grant

During the COVID‑19 pandemic, despite personnel protection equipment, healthcare workers are 10 times more likely to contract the infection due to their exposure to patients and co-workers with unknown or confirmed COVID19 infection. Any one withdrawn due to infection has an amplified negative impact on care delivery, further increasing the burden on those remaining and on our healthcare system. Studies have shown that Vitamin D supplementation decreases the risk of common respiratory illnesses by about 20%, particularly in those with lower vitamin D levels. Lower Vitamin D levels is a common occurrence among Canadians, particularly in the fall and winter, that is, at the expected of the second wave of infection. Whether high-dose vitamin supplementation can help decrease the risk of COVID 19 infection in health care workers is yet to determined. In this 16-week randomized clinical trial to be started in September 2020, 2414 healthcare workers in the greater Montreal area will be allocated by chance to receive: (i) a high bolus dose of vitamin D followed by weekly doses of vitamin D or (ii) placebo bolus and placebo weekly dose, for 16 weeks. Every two weeks, participants will perform a nasal swab to be send to analysis. This study will examine whether healthcare workers receiving vitamin D have a lower risk of COVID‑19 infection, milder infection, and/ or a shorter infection duration, compared to the control group. If vitamin D proves effective to decrease COVID 19 infections, severity, and duration, it may be the cheapest, most easily applicable approach (in addition to social distancing and personal prevention equipment) to prevent COVID‑19 infection in at-risk healthcare workers. If the benefit also translates in fewer and shorter withdrawals from the workforce, it may consubstantially reduce the burden on healthcare system and ensuring sufficient healthcare workforce to better tackle the current pandemic.

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