On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared SARS-CoV-2 (commonly called COVID-19) a global pandemic. As in any pandemic, maintaining the health and safety of the healthcare workforce is of great importance as health care workers (HCW) remain a critical line of defense against the spread of COVID-19 and play a vital role in the recovery of those already infected. Frontline HCW, such as those in the emergency department (ED), are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 due to their close proximity to patients who may have the virus. The impact of frontline HCW becoming ill and thus unable to go to work is equally high, and of grave risk to the function of our healthcare system and our ability to minimize the impact of the current pandemic.

This study aims to evaluate whether hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), a well-tolerated drug typically used in the prevention of malaria transmission and rheumatic disease, taken before and during exposure to patients with COVID-19, is effective in reducing COVID-19 infections among ED HCW. We will enroll ED HCW from 5 hospital sites in Toronto, Canada in this trial, and randomly give half the group HCQ and the other half a placebo pill for 90 days and compare the number of people in each group that are infected with COVID-19. Throughout the trial we will monitor each group with 4 visits, where we will monitor if the drug is safe and tolerable, the ability of participants to take the medication regularly, as well as their psychological well-being. This study, if shown successful, has the potential to greatly benefit the health system on an individual, institutional, national and international level.