Objectives: To investigate the incidence of COVID-19 in a cohort of adult and paediatric patients with rheumatic diseases receiving targeted biologic and synthetic disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (tDMARDs) and to explore the possible effect of these treatments in the clinical expression of COVID-19.
Methods: A cross-sectional study comprising of a telephone survey and electronic health records review was performed including all adult and paediatric patients with rheumatic diseases treated with tDMARDs in a large rheumatology tertiary centre in Barcelona, Spain. Demographics, disease activity, COVID-19 related symptoms and contact history data were obtained from the start of the 2020 pandemic. Cumulative incidence of confirmed cases (SARS-CoV-2 positive PCR test) was compared to the population estimates for the same city districts from a governmental COVID-19 health database. Suspected cases were defined following WHO criteria and compared to those without compatible symptoms.
Results: 959 patients with rheumatic diseases treated with tDMARDs were included. We identified 11 confirmed SARS-CoV-2 positive cases in the adult cohort and no confirmed positive cases in the paediatric cohort. COVID-19 incidence rates of the rheumatic patient cohort were very similar to that of the general population [(0.48% (95% CI 0.09 to 0.87%)] and [0.58% (95% CI 0.56 to 0.60%)], respectively. We found significant differences in tDMARDs proportions between the suspected and non-suspected cases (p=0.002).
Conclusion: Adult and paediatric patients with rheumatic diseases on tDMARDs do not seem to present a higher risk of COVID-19 or a more severe disease outcome when compared to general population.
Keywords: COVID-19; Epidemiology; Pediatric rheumatology; Rheumatic diseases; Targeted disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs.
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