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The practice of using repurposed medications as chemoprophylaxis for COVID-19 by healthcare workers in a tertiary hospital in Southern Nigeria

Sylvanus B Udoette
Asukwo E Onukak
Victor A Umoh
Akpabio A Akpabio


Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a viral infection that has been reported in virtually every country. Healthcare workers (HCW) are more at risk of COVID-19 than the general population making them a priority group for vaccination. Before the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines in Nigeria, some HCW were using some repurposed, unapproved drugs to possibly prevent the disease. This study evaluated the frequency and pattern of drug use for COVID-19 prevention.

Methods: This was a prospective cross-sectional study of HCW conducted in Southern Nigeria. Data was obtained from the participants using a questionnaire and blood sample was obtained for SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing. Data was analysed using the statistical package for social sciences (SPSS) version 23.

Results: One hundred and sixty-six participants were enrolled in this study. Thirty-two (19.3%) of them had taken a repurposed medication as prophylaxis for COVID-19. The most used drugs were Vitamin C (9%), Azithromycin (8.4%) and Zinc (6.6%). History of contact with patient with confirmed COVID-19 and being a pharmacist were independent factors associated with the use of COVID-19 prophylaxis.

Conclusion: Several HCW in Nigeria take drugs to possibly prevent COVID-19. These medications may not offer significant protection against COVID-19. There is an urgent need to increase uptake of COVID-19 vaccines in HCW in Nigeria.

Keywords: COVID-19; Chemoprophylaxis; Healthcare workers.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1729-0503
print ISSN: 1680-6905