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Alberta Hope COVID-19 study tests early treatment option

A province-wide trial will investigate the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in preventing hospitalization for people at the highest risk of developing severe symptoms of COVID-19.


The Alberta Hope COVID-19 study will recruit 1,600 Albertans to determine whether a prescribed five-day treatment of HCQ can prevent hospitalization for those at highest risk of developing a severe illness.

“As we’ve learned from other countries, hospital systems can become overwhelmed by those infected with the virus who need critical care. Our goal is to reduce the risk of severe disease experienced by individuals and reduce the burden on the health-care system by helping people recover from the effects of the virus at home.” Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

The clinical trial is being led by University of Calgary and University of Alberta researchers, with support from the Alberta government, Alberta Health Services and its Strategic Clinical Networks, Calgary Health Trust, Alberta Innovates and the University of Calgary/Alberta Health Services Clinical Research Fund.

“Clinical trials like this will give healthcare professionals more evidence to determine how best to care for patients. AHS is rallying alongside its academic partners at the Universities of Calgary and Alberta to help leverage research in the response to this global pandemic.” Dr. Kathryn Todd, vice-president of Provincial Clinical Excellence, Alberta Health Services

HCQ is originally an anti-malarial drug currently used mostly for immunological disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. Laboratory studies suggest it may be helpful against COVID-19.

“We will be targeting Albertans who are at risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19. Those include people over 18, living independently, who have an underlying medical condition which has proven to contribute to the worsening of symptoms, and eventual hospitalization.” Dr. Luanne Metz, study lead, and professor at the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary

Quick facts

  • The Alberta-specific trial will be funded by a consortium including a $286,000 grant from the Government of Alberta. 

  • The University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine is a leader in health research, with an international reputation for excellence and innovation in health care research and education.

  • Alberta Health Services will obtain permission from individuals with positive COVID-19 tests to provide their contact information to Alberta Hope COVID-19 study researchers. Consenting participants will be screened for safety and eligibility.

  • All Albertans have a responsibility to help prevent the spread. Take steps to protect yourself and others:

  • practise social distancing

  • stay home and away from others if sick or in mandatory self-isolation

  • practise good hygiene – wash hands often for at least 20 seconds, cover coughs and sneezes, and avoid touching your face

  • monitor for symptoms, such as cough, fever, fatigue or difficulty breathing

  • Anyone who has health concerns or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should complete an online COVID-19 self-assessment.

  • For recommendations on protecting yourself and your community, visit alberta.ca/COVID19.

Provincial Press Release April 13, 2020 @ 12:03 PM

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