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02-12-2021 | COVID-19 | News

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COVID-19: Meta-analysis suggests increased infection, mortality risk in people with RMDs

Claire Barnard

medwireNews: A meta-analysis carried out by the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance suggests that people with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) have a higher risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection and mortality than the general population.

This represents the “most comprehensive systematic literature review and meta-analysis to date” on the topic, and involved a total of 100 studies, say Richard Conway (St James's Hospital, Dublin, Ireland) and colleagues.

They report in Arthritis & Rheumatology that people with RMDs had a significantly higher risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection than the general population, with a pooled relative risk (RR) of 1.53. The risk for mortality was also significantly elevated in RMD patients, at a pooled RR of 1.74, but other measures of COVID-19 severity, such as rates of hospitalization and mechanical ventilation, did not significantly differ in the two groups.

“Applying these results to clinical care is complex,” write the authors. They say that a number of possible reasons could explain their findings, including “bias from greater baseline exposure to the healthcare system” or higher rates of comorbidities among RMD patients versus controls, as well as “immune dysregulation related to RMD treatments or to the RMDs themselves.”

The team concludes: “Regardless of the cause, people with RMDs should be encouraged to be vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 and to employ risk mitigation strategies as able.”

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Ltd. © 2021 Springer Healthcare Ltd, part of the Springer Nature Group

Arthritis Rheumatol 2021; doi:10.1002/art.42030

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