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07-06-2021 | EULAR 2021 | Conference coverage | News

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BIOCOV study supports rituximab link to severe COVID-19

Lucy Piper

medwireNews: Further research confirming an association between rituximab and an increased risk for severe COVID-19 was reported at the EULAR 2021 Virtual Congress.

The BIOCOV study of 1116 patients with inflammatory arthritides who were prospectively taking intravenous biologic DMARDs showed that the 392 patients taking rituximab were seven times more likely to develop severe COVID-19, defined as death, hospitalization, or an increase in hospital stay due to COVID-19, than patients taking other DMARDs.

Rituximab was the only risk factor that remained significantly associated with the risk for severe COVID-19 after differences in baseline patient characteristics had been taken into account, Renaud Felten (Hôpitaux Universitaires de Strasbourg, France) told delegates. Significant associations were found for older age and glucocorticoid use in univariate but not multivariate analysis.

The study participants (median age 60 years; 64% women), the majority of whom had rheumatoid arthritis, were followed up from September 2019 for a median of 15 months. During that time there were 10 confirmed cases of severe COVID-19, of which nine were in patients taking rituximab and one was in a patient taking infliximab.

Felten noted that the median duration between the last infusion of rituximab and COVID-19 diagnosis was 3.5 months.

“Among patients with inflammatory arthritides, those receiving rituximab should be prioritized for vaccination against SARS-CoV-2,” ensuring a sufficient amount of time before infusion, Felton concluded, or “an alternative targeted therapy proposed.”

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

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