The clinical course of SARS-CoV-2 infection among children with rheumatic disease under biologic therapy: a retrospective and multicenter study

Rheumatol Int. 2021 Sep 27;1-7. doi: 10.1007/s00296-021-05008-w. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

The effects of biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARDs) in the clinical course of COVID-19 on children with underlying rheumatologic diseases have not been fully demonstrated. To evaluate the course of COVID-19 infection in patients with rheumatic disease receiving bDMARD treatment. This was a retrospective, multicenter study conducted in pediatric patients infected by SARS-CoV-2 and under bDMARDs therapy. The study population consisted of 113 patients (72 female/41 male). The mean age of the patients was 12.87 ± 4.69 years. The primary diagnosis of the cohort was as follows: 63 juvenile idiopathic arthritis, 35 systemic autoinflammatory diseases, 10 vasculitides, and five cases of connective tissue diseases. The mean duration of the primary disease was 4.62 ± 3.65 years. A total of 19 patients had additional comorbid diseases. Thirty-five patients were treated with canakinumab, 25 with adalimumab, 18 with etanercept, 10 with infliximab, nine with tocilizumab, six with rituximab, four with anakinra, three with tofacitinib, and one with abatacept. The median exposure time of the biological drug was 13.5 months. Seventy-one patients had symptomatic COVID-19, while 42 were asymptomatic. Twenty-four patients required hospitalization. Five patients presented with MIS-C. The hospitalized patients were younger and had a shorter duration of rheumatic disease compared to ambulatory patients, although the difference was not statistically significant. Steroid usage, presence of fever, and dyspnea were more common among the hospitalized patients. A worsening in the course of both COVID-19 and current disease was not noticed under bDMARDs, however, to end with a strong conclusion multicentric international studies are required.

Keywords: Biologic drugs; COVID-19; Pediatrics; Rheumatic disease.