Background: The objective of this quasi-experimental study was to determine whether bolus vitamin D supplementation taken either regularly over the preceding year or after the diagnosis of COVID-19 was effective in improving survival among hospitalized frail elderly COVID-19 patients.
Methods: Seventy-seven patients consecutively hospitalized for COVID-19 in a geriatric unit were included. Intervention groups were participants regularly supplemented with vitamin D over the preceding year (Group 1), and those supplemented with vitamin D after COVID-19 diagnosis (Group 2). The comparator group involved participants having received no vitamin D supplements (Group 3). Outcomes were 14-day mortality and highest (worst) score on the ordinal scale for clinical improvement (OSCI) measured during COVID-19 acute phase. Potential confounders were age, gender, functional abilities, undernutrition, cancer, hypertension, cardiomyopathy, glycated hemoglobin, number of acute health issues at admission, hospital use of antibiotics, corticosteroids, and pharmacological treatments of respiratory disorders.
Results: The three groups (n = 77; mean ± SD, 88 ± 5years; 49% women) were similar at baseline (except for woman proportion, p = 0.02), as were the treatments used for COVID-19. In Group 1 (n = 29), 93.1% of COVID-19 participants survived at day 14, compared to 81.2% survivors in Group 2 (n = 16) (p = 0.33) and 68.7% survivors in Group 3 (n = 32) (p = 0.02). While considering Group 3 as reference (hazard ratio (HR) = 1), the fully-adjusted HR for 14-day mortality was HR = 0.07 (p = 0.017) for Group 1 and HR = 0.37 (p = 0.28) for Group 2. Group 1 had longer survival time than Group 3 (log-rank p = 0.015), although there was no difference between Groups 2 and 3 (log-rank p = 0.32). Group 1, but not Group 2 (p = 0.40), was associated with lower risk of OSCI score ≥5 compared to Group 3 (odds ratio = 0.08, p= 0.03).
Conclusions: Regular bolus vitamin D supplementation was associated with less severe COVID-19 and better survival in frail elderly.
Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; older adults; quasi-experimental study; therapeutics; vitamin D.