Background and aims: There are concerns regarding the potential impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on patients with inflammatory bowel disease [IBD]. We report on the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak in a European prospective cohort study of patients with IBD.
Patients and methods: We prospectively collected data from 5457 patients with IBD nested in the ongoing I-CARE project and still followed up in April 2020, with monthly online monitoring of clinical activity, treatment, imaging and endoscopy. Investigators were also contacted to report incidental cases.
Results: In total, 233 [4.3%] reported COVID-19 and 12 [0.2%] severe COVID-19, with no COVID-19 deaths. The risk of COVID-19 in patients with IBD was not increased compared to the general population (standardized incidence ratio [SIR]: 1.18, 95% confidence interval [CI] [1.03-1.34], p = 0.009), as well as the risk of severe COVID-19 (SIR: 0.69, 95% CI [0.35-1.20], p = 0.93). We did not observe any negative impact of the different IBD-related medication on the risk of either COVID-19 or severe COVID-19. In 2020, the COVID-19 outbreak resulted in a drastic decrease in endoscopic and imaging procedures from March to May 2020 compared to 2018 and 2019. No impacts on clinical IBD disease activity as well as ongoing treatment were noted.
Conclusion: No increases in either COVID-19 or severe COVID-19 incidences were observed in patients with IBD. There was no impact of COVID-19 on IBD-related medication and clinical activity. Access to endoscopy and imaging was restricted during the first months of the first COVID-19 outbreak.
Keywords: Crohn’s disease; inflammatory bowel disease; patient experience; ulcerative colitis.
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