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Project #107:
Evaluating the potential effects of statins on COVID-19 outcomes using regression discontinuity and instrumental variable approaches

  • Type: Research
  • Topic areas: Risk from COVID (short term) [e.g. hospitalisation/death]; Post-COVID health impacts [e.g. long COVID]

In the past year a body of research has emerged highlighting a potential link between treatment with statins and COVID-19 related outcomes. Bergqvist el al (2021), for example, find that individuals taking statins were at a lower risk of death attributable to COVID-19. This is potentially explained by the role of statins in reducing inflammation and blood clotting, features frequently observed in severe COVID-19 cases.

In this study we aim to further explore the extent to which a causal relationship between statin use and COVID-19 outcomes exists using a regression discontinuity study design, as well as instrumental variable (IV) methods (using QRISK as an IV for example). Such approaches have the potential to adjust for sources of bias common in observational studies, which have currently been employed by the majority of studies investigating the relationship between statins and COVID-19 outcomes. In this way, this study will potentially provide greater insight into the mechanisms underpinning COVID-19 related health outcomes.

Applying such methods will provide a different perspective which can be incorporated within an evidence triangulation framework to better inform health policy with respect to the use of statins in preventing adverse COVID-19 health outcomes. We anticipate the results of this study will be presented in the form of a peer-reviewed paper, and potentially a subsequent paper formally triangulating evidence from multiple studies of differing design.


Bergqvist R, Ahlqvist VH, Lundberg M, Hergens M-P, Sundström J, Bell M, et al. (2021) HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors and COVID-19 mortality in Stockholm, Sweden: A registry-based cohort study. PLoS Med 18(10): e1003820.

  • Study leads: Wes Spiller
  • Organisation: University of Bristol