COVID-19 in patients undergoing long-term dialysis in Ontario

CMAJ. 2021 Feb 22;193(8):E278-E284. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.202601. Epub 2021 Feb 4.


Background: Patients undergoing long-term dialysis may be at higher risk of infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and of associated disease and mortality. We aimed to describe the incidence, risk factors and outcomes for infection in these patients in Ontario, Canada.

Methods: We used linked data sets to compare disease characteristics and mortality between patients receiving long-term dialysis in Ontario who were diagnosed SARS-CoV-2 positive and those who did not acquire SARS-CoV-2 infection, between Mar. 12 and Aug. 20, 2020. We collected data on SARS-CoV-2 infection prospectively. We evaluated risk factors for infection and death using multivariable logistic regression analyses.

Results: During the study period, 187 (1.5%) of 12 501 patients undergoing dialysis were diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Of those with SARS-CoV-2 infection, 117 (62.6%) were admitted to hospital and the case fatality rate was 28.3%. Significant predictors of infection included in-centre hemodialysis versus home dialysis (odds ratio [OR] 2.54, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.59-4.05), living in a long-term care residence (OR 7.67, 95% CI 5.30-11.11), living in the Greater Toronto Area (OR 3.27, 95% CI 2.21-4.80), Black ethnicity (OR 3.05, 95% CI 1.95-4.77), Indian subcontinent ethnicity (OR 1.70, 95% CI 1.02-2.81), other non-White ethnicities (OR 2.03, 95% CI 1.38-2.97) and lower income quintiles (OR 1.82, 95% CI 1.15-2.89).

Interpretation: Patients undergoing long-term dialysis are at increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and death from coronavirus disease 2019. Special attention should be paid to addressing risk factors for infection, and these patients should be prioritized for vaccination.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • COVID-19 / therapy
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Hemodialysis Units, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / epidemiology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ontario
  • Renal Dialysis / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors