LSU Health New Orleans LEAD COVID-19 Trial was designed to test if aspirin and vitamin D can spearhead our fight against COVID-19. This is a gold-standard trial that will enroll 1,080 patients across seven participating hospitals around the country. Trials like these require funding, but traditional funding sources are slow. During this pandemic, which has badly damaged our economy, speed is crucial. This is why we are turning to you, our donors and supporters, to accelerate the launch of this trial.
For nearly 2 months, COVID-19 shut down our economy and disrupted our lives. During that time, we learned that COVID-19 presents many medical mysteries. Why do many patients have no symptoms at all, while others require ICU care? Why do dark-skinned persons, people with high blood pressure, and the elderly get sicker? Why do smokers and homeless patients seem to be protected from symptoms? Why do sick COVID-19 patients form blood clots so aggressively? And why do certain countries, such as those in Scandinavia, and Australia/New Zealand have lower mortality rates?
Since the answers to these questions could point us to treatments for COVID-19, Dr. Frank Lau, Associate Professor of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery at LSU Health, assembled a team of leading researchers who specialized in blood clotting and immunology. An intense search of the medical literature revealed that low vitamin D levels are strongly linked to every COVID-19 risk factor. Dark-skinned persons produce less vitamin D because they naturally block UV light. Low vitamin D levels can cause high blood pressure. Elderly patients who do not go outside as much can have critically low vitamin D levels. And strikingly, low vitamin D levels can reduce our immune defenses against viral infections like COVID-19, and can also lead to dramatic, whole-body clotting when we get sick.
We then took the next step and asked, “What do vitamin D levels look like in the sickest COVID-19 patients?” We tested vitamin D levels in two New Orleans ICUs that were filled with COVID-19 patients. The results were jaw-dropping: 93.5% of COVID-19 patients in the ICU had low vitamin D. Unfortunately, even data this strong does not prove a cause-effect relationship. Only a randomized, controlled trial can provide a definitive answer. That is where our LEAD COVID-19 Trial comes in. And that is why we are asking for your support.
Our research has been covered extensively in national and global news: