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Do all patients with rheumatic Diseases have a higher risk of COVID 19? Initial results from the Karnataka Rheumatology Association COVID 19 Cohort Study (KRACC)

 Karnataka Rheumatology Association, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Vineeta Shobha,
Department of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, St John's Medical College Hospital, Sarjapur Road, Bengaluru - 560 034, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/injr.injr_261_20

Background: Patients with autoimmune rheumatic diseases (AIRD) may be at an increased risk for COVID-19 infection and poorer outcomes when compared with the general population. We undertook this study to estimate the risk of COVID-19 infection in our AIRD population and determine parameters which contribute to its occurrence. Methods: We prospectively recruited all consecutive AIRD patients on immunosuppressive therapy from 14 specialist rheumatology centers across south Indian state of Karnataka during current COVID-19 pandemic and followed them longitudinally. Results: Among 3807 participants, the majority were women (2.9:1), mean age was 43.8 (+14.3) years, rheumatoid arthritis (52.1%), and systemic lupus erythematosus (14.8%) were the most frequent diagnosis. Twenty-three (0.6%) patients contracted SARS-CoV-2 infection. Age >60 years (P = 0.01), diabetes (P = 0.009), hypertension (P = 0.001), preexisting lung disease (P = 0.0002), current prescription of either angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blockers (P = 0.01), and higher glucocorticoids dosage (P = 0.002) were identified as potential risk factors in our cohort. The past use of cyclophosphamide (P = 0.0001) or mycophenolate mofeti (P = 0.003) or biologics (P = 0.001) also had a significant association with COVID-19 infection. Hydroxychloroquine use did not influence occurrence or outcome. The presence of underlying lung disease (relative risk - 3.08, 95% confidence interval - 1.21, 8.44, P = 0.029) was the only independent risk factor associated with the risk of COVID positivity in the multivariate analysis. Incidence rate of COVID-19 infection was similar to that of the general population (P = 0.22). Conclusions: The incidence of SARS CoV-2 infection in AIRD population is comparable to the general population. Underlying lung disease was the most important risk factor apart from older age, diabetes, hypertension, and a higher glucocorticoid dosage.

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