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Project #145:
Association between ursodeoxycholic acid and COVID-19 outcomes

  • Type: Research
  • Topic areas: Risk from COVID (short term) [e.g. hospitalisation/death]

Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) is used routinely to treat a liver condition called primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) and is taken long-term to prevent the disease progressing. There is some biological evidence UDCA may prevent serious COVID-19 outcomes. A small study using observational liver disease registry data showed less severe COVID-19 outcomes in those taking UDCA. We plan to test this association in a much larger population using OpenSAFELY data. The study population will be all people with PBC, we will compare COVID-19 deaths in those treated with UDCA to those not treated with UDCA initially in first year of the pandemic, and then further extended up to the end of 2022.

This is important for those at high-risk of COVID-19, for whom vaccinations are less effective, where treatments to prevent the disease may be important to reduce the risk of severe COVID-19.


  • Study leads: Ruth Costello
  • Organisation: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine