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COVID-19 Outcomes No Worse for Patients on Immunosuppressive Meds

TUESDAY, Jan. 26, 2021 -- People taking immunosuppressive drugs prior to a COVID-19 hospitalization do not have worse outcomes, according to a study published online Jan. 7 in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Kathleen M. Andersen, from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues retrospectively assessed whether chronic use of immunosuppressive drugs worsens or improves the severity of COVID-19. The analysis included 2,121 consecutive adults (median age, 55 years) with acute inpatient hospital admission between March 4 and Aug. 29, 2020, with confirmed (93 percent) or suspected COVID-19.

The researchers found that 108 patients (5 percent) were classified as immunosuppressed before COVID-19, primarily with prednisone (>7.5 mg/day), tacrolimus, or mycophenolate mofetil to prevent organ transplant rejection or to treat inflammatory or autoimmune diseases. Overall, 15 percent of patients received mechanical ventilation, with a median length of stay of 5.2 days, and 91 percent survived to discharge. There were no significant differences noted among individuals with or without immunosuppression regarding the risk for mechanical ventilation (hazard ratio [HR], 0.79; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.46 to 1.35), in-hospital mortality (HR, 0.66; 95 percent CI, 0.28 to 1.55), or length of stay (HR, 1.16; 95 percent CI, 0.92 to 1.47) in an adjusted analysis.

"At this point, there is no indication that people taking immunosuppressive drugs for other diagnosed conditions should be concerned that their medication increases their risk for severe COVID-19," Andersen said in a statement.

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