Sickle cell trait and the potential risk of severe coronavirus disease 2019-A mini-review

Eur J Haematol. 2020 Nov;105(5):519-523. doi: 10.1111/ejh.13478. Epub 2020 Jul 14.


Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is a rapidly evolving public health problem. The severity of COVID-19 cases reported hitherto has varied greatly from asymptomatic to severe pneumonia and thromboembolism with subsequent mortality. An improved understanding of risk factors for adverse clinical outcomes may shed some light on novel personalized approaches to optimize clinical care in vulnerable populations. Emerging trends in the United States suggest possibly higher mortality rates of COVID-19 among African Americans, although detailed epidemiological study data is pending. Sickle cell disease (SCD) disproportionately affects Black/African Americans in the United States as well as forebearers from sub-Saharan Africa, the Western Hemisphere (South America, the Caribbean, and Central America), and some Mediterranean countries. The carrier frequency for SCD is high among African Americans. This article underscores the putative risks that may be associated with COVID-19 pneumonia in sickle cell trait as well as potential opportunities for individualized medical care in the burgeoning era of personalized medicine.

Keywords: Thromboembolism; Vaso-Occlusive Crisis (VOC); acute chest syndrome; coronavirus disease 2019; sickle cell disease; sickle cell trait.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / complications
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / epidemiology
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / genetics
  • Black or African American / genetics
  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / mortality
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Precision Medicine
  • Risk Factors
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sickle Cell Trait / complications*
  • Sickle Cell Trait / epidemiology
  • Sickle Cell Trait / genetics
  • United States / epidemiology