Chest. 2021 Feb 20:S0012-3692(21)00289-0. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2021.02.024. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Severity of illness in COVID-19 is consistently lower in women. Focus on sex as a biologic factor may suggest a potential therapeutic intervention for this disease. We assessed whether adding progesterone to standard of care would improve clinical outcomes of hospitalized men with moderate to severe COVID-19.
RESEARCH QUESTION: Does short-term subcutaneous administration of progesterone safely improve clinical outcome in hypoxemic men hospitalized with COVID-19?
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: We conducted a pilot, randomized, open-label, controlled trial of subcutaneous progesterone in men hospitalized with confirmed moderate to severe COVID-19. Patients were randomly assigned to receive standard of care (SOC) plus progesterone (100 mg subcutaneously twice daily for up to five days) or SOC alone. In addition to assessment of safety, the primary outcome was change in clinical status at day 7. Length of hospital stay and number of days on supplemental oxygen were key secondary outcomes.
RESULTS: Forty-two patients were enrolled from April - August 2020; 22 were randomized to the control group and 20 to the progesterone group. Two patients from the progesterone group withdrew from the study prior to receiving progesterone. There was a 1.5-point overall improvement in median clinical status score on a seven-point ordinal scale from baseline to Day 7 in patients in the progesterone group as compared to controls (95%CI:0.0-2.0; P=0.024). There were no serious adverse events attributable to progesterone. Patients treated with progesterone required 3 fewer days of supplemental oxygen (median of 4.5 vs 7.5 days) and were hospitalized for 2.5 fewer days (median of 7.0 vs 9.5 days) as compared to controls.
INTERPRETATION: Progesterone at a dose of 100 mg, twice daily by subcutaneous injection in addition to SOC may represent a safe and effective approach for treatment in hypoxemic men with moderate to severe COVID-19.