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eISSN: 2084-9834
ISSN: 0034-6233
Reumatologia/Rheumatology
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1/2021
vol. 59
 
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abstract:
Editorial

Between COVID-19 severity and its prevention – what should rheumatologists be aware of?

Joanna Makowska
1
,
Filip Styrzyński
1

1.
Department of Rheumatology, Medical University of Lodz, Poland
Reumatologia 2021; 59, 1: 1–2
Online publish date: 2021/02/28
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A year has passed since the unprecedented eruption of SARS-CoV-2 infections affected almost all countries around the world. Rheumatic patients represent a numerous group of people in which the immune system is impaired both by chronic immunosuppressive treatment and by the disease itself. For this reason doctors are worried about the optimal management and how to prevent the exacerbation of autoimmune systemic diseases. Recently, a few important studies have been published regarding the risk of a severe course of COVID amongst rheumatic patients, parallel to the dynamically ongoing worldwide vaccination process as never seen before.
Although the data remain scarce, Zhong et al. [1] suggested that patients with rheumatic musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) might be almost 3 times more susceptible to COVID-19. Another study from France [2] assessed the risk of a severe course of COVID-19 in RMD patients. It showed that the risk of mortality amongst hospitalized individuals was almost 1.5 times higher than in the matched control group. This study also assessed risk factors for developing a severe disease – in multivariable analysis there were unfavourable known factors such as advanced age, male sex, obesity and hypertension as well as use of some antirheumatic drugs (glucocorticosteroids, rituximab and mycophenolate).
When considering the underlying rheumatic disorder, vasculitis, systemic autoimmune diseases and auto­inflammatory diseases brought higher risk of a severe course compared to inflammatory arthritis. Nonetheless, use of methotrexate, tocilizumab and TNF inhibitors did not increase the risk of a fatal outcome. These findings shed some light on treatment choices in the COVID-19 era. The study of Strangfeld [3] and participants of Global Rheumatology Alliance gathered data about the course of COVID-19 from patients with various rheumatic diseases coming from different countries and continents in. Factors associated with the fatal outcome of COVID-19 were advanced age, male gender, comorbidities (hypertension, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease) and moderate/high activity of the rheumatic disease. The use of higher doses of prednisolone (> 10 mg/day), rituximab, sulfasalazine and some immunosuppressive drugs (azathioprine, cyclophosphamide, cyclosporine, mycophenolate and tacrolimus) was considered as an iatrogenic risk factor which increases the risk of death. Interestingly, the lack of DMARD treatment was associated with...


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