medwireNews: A large UK study using the OpenSAFELY analytics platform has identified autoinflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) as possible risk factors for COVID-19-related death.
As reported in Nature, Ben Goldacre (University of Oxford, UK) and co-researchers created OpenSAFELY as a secure method to analyze pseudonymized electronic medical records. They used primary care data from 17,278,392 adults, 10,926 (0.06%) of whom died and had COVID-19 recorded on their death certificate, to identify clinical risk factors for COVID-19 mortality.
Among the 878,475 people with a diagnosis of RA, SLE, or psoriasis, COVID-19-related death occurred in 0.11%. People with these conditions had a significant 19% higher risk for COVID-19 mortality that those without after adjustment for factors including age, sex, BMI, and comorbidities.
The study also confirmed that older age was strongly associated with increased mortality risk, with people aged 80 years and older having more than a 20-fold increased risk than those aged 50–59 years. Male sex, Black and South Asian ethnicity, obesity, and a range of conditions including diabetes, severe asthma, and chronic heart disease were also linked to COVID-19 mortality risk.
These findings “may be used subsequently to inform the development of prognostic models,” say Goldacre and team, but they “caution against interpreting [the] estimates as causal effects.”
medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare. © 2020 Springer Healthcare part of the Springer Nature Group
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