Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 in patients with multiple sclerosis

Eur J Neurol. 2022 Dec;29(12):3728-3736. doi: 10.1111/ene.15554. Epub 2022 Sep 23.


Background and purpose: Clinical outcomes of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients affected by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have been thoroughly investigated, but a further analysis on main signs and symptoms and their risk factors still needs attention. The objective of this study was to group together and describe based on similarity the most common signs and symptoms of COVID-19 in MS patients and identify all factors associated with their manifestation.

Method: Logistic and linear regression models were run to recognize factors associated with each pooled group of symptoms and their total number.

Results: From March 2020 to November 2021, data were collected from 1354 MS patients with confirmed infection of COVID-19. Ageusia and anosmia was less frequent in older people (odds ratio [OR] 0.98; p = 0.005) and more in smoker patients (OR 1.39; p = 0.049). Smoke was also associated with an incremental number of symptoms (OR 1.24; p = 0.031), substance abuse (drugs or alcohol), conjunctivitis and rash (OR 5.20; p = 0.042) and the presence of at least one comorbidity with shortness of breath, tachycardia or chest pain (OR 1.24; p = 0.008). Some disease-modifying therapies were associated with greater frequencies of certain COVID-19 symptoms (association between anti-CD20 therapies and increment in the number of concomitant symptoms: OR 1.29; p = 0.05). Differences in frequencies between the three waves were found for flu-like symptoms (G1, p = 0.024), joint or muscle pain (G2, p = 0.013) and ageusia and anosmia (G5, p < 0.001). All cases should be referred to variants up to Delta.

Conclusion: Several factors along with the choice of specific therapeutic approaches might have a different impact on the occurrence of some COVID-19 symptoms.

Keywords: COVID-19; demyelinating diseases; disease-modifying treatment; multiple sclerosis; neurological disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Ageusia* / epidemiology
  • Ageusia* / etiology
  • Anosmia
  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / complications
  • SARS-CoV-2