Hydroxychloroquine for pre-exposure prophylaxis of COVID-19 in health care workers...

Updated: Oct 2, 2021

Hydroxychloroquine for pre-exposure prophylaxis of COVID-19 in health care workers: a randomized, multicenter, placebo-controlled trial (HERO-HCQ)

Objective
To determine whether hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is safe and effective at preventing COVID-19 infections among health care workers (HCW). Design Multicenter, 1:1 randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, parallel-group, superiority trial. Setting 34 clinical centers in the United States.


Participants 1360 HCW at risk for COVID-19 infection enrolled between April and November 2020.
Interventions A loading dose of HCQ 600 mg twice on Day 1 followed by 400 mg daily for 29 days or matching placebo taken orally.

Main Outcome Measure Composite of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 clinical infection by Day 30 defined as new onset fever, cough, or dyspnea and either a positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test (confirmed) or a lack of confirmatory testing due to local restrictions (suspected).

Results
Enrollment for the study was closed before full accrual due to difficulties recruiting additional participants. The primary composite endpoint occurred in 41 (6.0%) participants receiving HCQ and 53 (7.8%) participants receiving placebo. No statistically significant difference in the proportion of participants experiencing clinical infection (estimated difference of -1.8%, 95% confidence interval -4.6% to 0.9%, p=0.20). We identified no significant safety issues.



Conclusion
Oral HCQ taken as prescribed appeared to be safe in a group of HCW. No significant clinical benefits were observed. The study was underpowered to rule out a small but potentially important reduction in COVID-19 infections.

Competing Interest Statement
All authors have completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form and declare: support from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) for the reported work; Vir Biotechnology (SC); AstraZeneca, GSK, Novartis, Pulmatric, Sanofi-Aventis, Genentech, Teva (MC); Vir Biotechnology (KA); Centers for Disease Control, Infection Control Education for Major Sports, LLC, UpToDate, AHRQ, NIAID (DA); NIH (KA); Pfizer (EO); Abbott (RR).

Funding Statement
The senior author (AH) obtained funding from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to conduct the study (Contract Number COVID-19-2020-001).

Author Declarations
I confirm all relevant ethical guidelines have been followed, and any necessary IRB and/or ethics committee approvals have been obtained.
Yes

The details of the IRB/oversight body that provided approval or exemption for the research described are given below:
The HERO-HCQ trial was reviewed by the Duke University School of Medicine Institutional Review Board and approved by the Western Institutional Review Board (Pro00105274).
All necessary patient/participant consent has been obtained and the appropriate institutional forms have been archived.
Yes

I understand that all clinical trials and any other prospective interventional studies must be registered with an ICMJE-approved registry, such as ClinicalTrials.gov. I confirm that any such study reported in the manuscript has been registered and the trial registration ID is provided (note: if posting a prospective study registered retrospectively, please provide a statement in the trial ID field explaining why the study was not registered in advance).
Yes

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