Current best evidence for clinical care (more info)
OBJECTIVE: The vitamin D endocrine system may have a variety of actions on cells and tissues involved in COVID-19 progression especially by decreasing the Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Calcifediol can rapidly increase serum 25OHD concentration. We therefore evaluated the effect of calcifediol treatment, on Intensive Care Unit Admission and Mortality rate among Spanish patients hospitalized for COVID-19.
DESIGN: Parallel pilot randomized open label, double-masked clinical trial.
SETTING: University hospital setting (Reina Sofia University Hospital, Córdoba Spain.) PARTICIPANTS: 76 consecutive patients hospitalized with COVID-19 infection, clinical picture of acute respiratory infection, confirmed by a radiographic pattern of viral pneumonia and by a positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR with CURB65 severity scale (recommending hospital admission in case of total score > 1).
PROCEDURES: All hospitalized patients received as best available therapy the same standard care, (per hospital protocol), of a combination of hydroxychloroquine (400 mg every 12 h on the first day, and 200 mg every 12 h for the following 5 days), azithromycin (500 mg orally for 5 days. Eligible patients were allocated at a 2 calcifediol:1 no calcifediol ratio through electronic randomization on the day of admission to take oral calcifediol (0.532 mg), or not. Patients in the calcifediol treatment group continued with oral calcifediol (0.266 mg) on day 3 and 7, and then weekly until discharge or ICU admission. Outcomes of effectiveness included rate of ICU admission and deaths.
RESULTS: Of 50 patients treated with calcifediol, one required admission to the ICU (2%), while of 26 untreated patients, 13 required admission (50 %) p value X2 Fischer test p < 0.001. Univariate Risk Estimate Odds Ratio for ICU in patients with Calcifediol treatment versus without Calcifediol treatment: 0.02 (95 %CI 0.002-0.17). Multivariate Risk Estimate Odds Ratio for ICU in patients with Calcifediol treatment vs Without Calcifediol treatment ICU (adjusting by Hypertension and T2DM): 0.03 (95 %CI: 0.003-0.25). Of the patients treated with calcifediol, none died, and all were discharged, without complications. The 13 patients not treated with calcifediol, who were not admitted to the ICU, were discharged. Of the 13 patients admitted to the ICU, two died and the remaining 11 were discharged.
CONCLUSION: Our pilot study demonstrated that administration of a high dose of Calcifediol or 25-hydroxyvitamin D, a main metabolite of vitamin D endocrine system, significantly reduced the need for ICU treatment of patients requiring hospitalization due to proven COVID-19. Calcifediol seems to be able to reduce severity of the disease, but larger trials with groups properly matched will be required to show a definitive answer.
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The strength of this study was that it was a randomised trial. Background treatment by hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin has been show not to be efficient in Covid-19. It lacks information about background treatment with corticosteroids. The weakness is that the study included only 76 patients with a randomisation scheme 2:1. Thus, even the significant effect of vitamin D on Covid-19 outcomes would not be enough for a recommendation for clinical practice. However, in addition to the results of some observational studies, the results of the present study seem to be a good rationale for conducting a large CRT to study the effect of vitamin D3 add-on treatment in subjects with Covid-19.
The authors propose a formally well-designed study, with findings that may make an important contribution to the treatment of patients with COVID-19.