Healthcare disparities among anticoagulation therapies for severe COVID-19 patients in the multi-site VIRUS registry

J Med Virol. 2021 Jul;93(7):4303-4318. doi: 10.1002/jmv.26918. Epub 2021 Mar 30.

Abstract

Here we analyze hospitalized andintensive care unit coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patient outcomes from the international VIRUS registry (https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04323787). We find that COVID-19 patients administered unfractionated heparin but not enoxaparin have a higher mortality-rate (390 of 1012 = 39%) compared to patients administered enoxaparin but not unfractionated heparin (270 of 1939 = 14%), presenting a risk ratio of 2.79 (95% confidence interval [CI]: [2.42, 3.16]; p = 4.45e-52). This difference persists even after balancing on a number of covariates including demographics, comorbidities, admission diagnoses, and method of oxygenation, with an increased mortality rate on discharge from the hospital of 37% (268 of 733) for unfractionated heparin versus 22% (154 of 711) for enoxaparin, presenting a risk ratio of 1.69 (95% CI: [1.42, 2.00]; p = 1.5e-8). In these balanced cohorts, a number of complications occurred at an elevated rate for patients administered unfractionated heparin compared to patients administered enoxaparin, including acute kidney injury, acute cardiac injury, septic shock, and anemia. Furthermore, a higher percentage of Black/African American COVID patients (414 of 1294 [32%]) were noted to receive unfractionated heparin compared to White/Caucasian COVID patients (671 of 2644 [25%]), risk ratio 1.26 (95% CI: [1.14, 1.40]; p = 7.5e-5). After balancing upon available clinical covariates, this difference in anticoagulant use remained statistically significant (311 of 1047 [30%] for Black/African American vs. 263 of 1047 [25%] for White/Caucasian, p = .02, risk ratio 1.18; 95% CI: [1.03, 1.36]). While retrospective studies cannot suggest any causality, these findings motivate the need for follow-up prospective research into the observed racial disparity in anticoagulant use and outcomes for severe COVID-19 patients.

Keywords: biostatistics & bioinformatics; epidemiology; pandemics; social science.

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants / adverse effects
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use*
  • Blood Coagulation / drug effects
  • COVID-19 / blood
  • COVID-19 / drug therapy
  • COVID-19 / mortality*
  • Enoxaparin / adverse effects
  • Enoxaparin / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Heparin / adverse effects
  • Heparin / therapeutic use*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Thrombosis / drug therapy
  • Thrombosis / prevention & control*

Substances

  • Anticoagulants
  • Enoxaparin
  • Heparin

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT04323787