Worldwide Early Impact of COVID-19 on Dialysis Patients and Staff and Lessons Learned: A DOPPS Roundtable Discussion

Kidney Med. 2021 Jul-Aug;3(4):619-634. doi: 10.1016/j.xkme.2021.03.006. Epub 2021 May 14.


As the worst global pandemic of the past century, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has had a disproportionate effect on maintenance dialysis patients and their health care providers. At a virtual roundtable on June 12, 2020, Dialysis Outcomes and Practice Patterns Study (DOPPS) investigators from 15 countries in Asia, Europe, and the Americas described and compared the effects of COVID-19 on dialysis care, with recent updates added. Most striking is the huge difference in risk to dialysis patients and staff across the world. Per-population cases and deaths among dialysis patients vary more than 100-fold across participating countries, mirroring burden in the general population. International data indicate that the case-fatality ratio remains at 10% to 30% among dialysis patients, confirming the gravity of infection, and that cases are much more common among in-center than home dialysis patients. This latter finding merits urgent study because in-center patients often have greater community exposure, and in-center transmission may be uncommon under optimal protocols. Greater telemedicine use is a welcome change here to stay, and our community needs to improve emergency planning and protect dialysis staff from the next pandemic. Finally, the pandemic's challenges have prompted widespread partnering and innovation in kidney care and research that must be sustained after this global health crisis.

Keywords: COVID-19; DOPPS; dialysis; international; risk.