Background: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), known
as Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19), has caused the sixth world’s public health emergency.
Healthcare staff, as the frontline population fighting the pandemic, are exposed to a high risk of infection.
Therefore, developing a protective intervention for medical staff is of significant importance.
Objective: The aim of the study was to explore the effectiveness and safety of recombinant human
interferon alpha (rhIFN-α) nasal drops for the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
through administering it to medical staff.
Methods: This was a prospective open-label clinical trial with parallel intervention assignment conducted
on 2944 medical staff including both doctors and nurses from Taihe Hospital, Shiyan City,
Hubei Province, China from January 21, 2020 to July 30, 2020. The participants were bifurcated into
two groups of low risk and high risk groups according to the level of direct exposure to
COVID-19 patients. The individuals of the low-risk group received rhIFN-α nasal drops for one
month in addition to first level protection, and the high-risk group received a combination of
rhIFN-α nasal drops coupled with thymosin-α1 with either second or third-level protection protocol.
Moreover, the new-outset of COVID-19 pneumonia diagnosed by chest computed tomography
(CT), after thirty days, was the primary outcome. The adverse reactions were recorded in all participants.
Results: 2415 of 2944 individuals belonged to the low-risk group, while 529 to the high-risk
group. There was no COVID-19 pneumonia in either of the group after thirty days. The pulmonary
CT scans were negative for COVID-19 pneumonia in both the groups with no new clinical symptoms.
No serious adverse event was observed during the course of the intervention.
Conclusion: The rhIFN-α nasal drops along with augmented safeguards based on standard physical
isolation could effectively protect medical staff against COVID-19 pneumonia.