Biologic therapy linked to increased shielding during COVID-19 pandemic
medwireNews: Patients with rheumatic diseases taking biologic therapy were more likely to shield during the first 6 months of the COVID-19 pandemic than those taking other drug types, shows research reported at the ACR Convergence 2020 virtual meeting.
Presenting the findings in a late-breaking poster session, Mark Yates (King's College London, UK) explained: “When the pandemic hit, the WHO recommended that people at higher risk of COVID-19 take risk mitigating behavior to reduce their risk. This included people with immune-mediated inflammatory disease on immunosuppressive therapy.”
He added that “paradoxically, survey and registry data suggest that biologic therapy is associated with a less severe COVID-19 phenotype.”
Yates and colleagues analyzed data from two online surveys for 3720 respondents with psoriasis (78.3%) or rheumatic disease, of whom 924 were taking biologics, 497 standard systemic therapies, and 2299 no systemic therapy.
Yates reported that 61% of patients shielded between April and September 2020 and taking biologic therapy was significantly associated with this mitigating behavior, unlike other therapy types, increasing the likelihood by a significant 63%.
“Shielding behavior varies by therapy class, along with other established COVID-19 risk factors, such as male gender,” he commented. “In the absence of a vaccine, shielding behavior remains really important in terms of public health.”
But Yates highlighted that “capturing and considering shielding behavior is really important when considering the risk of COVID-19 in patients with immune-mediated inflammatory disease.”
The analysis will be repeated from September 2020 to January 2021 to help assess changing patterns of shielding behavior in the second wave.
medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Ltd. © 2020 Springer Healthcare Ltd, part of the Springer Nature Group
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