COVID-19 has changed our world. As of October 1, 2020, the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center reported over 35.5 million individuals worldwide have been infected with COVID-19, including over 7 million in the United States. There are about 200,000 individuals living with sarcoidosis, a rare and chronic respiratory illness in the United States. A group of researchers are actively seeking more information about how COVID-19 may impact the sarcoidosis community – FSR partnered with the University of Cincinnati to disseminate the survey to our community. Preliminary results were made available in May and we now have results from the followup survey as well, providing a more comprehensive look at the impact COVID-19 is having on the sarcoidosis community.
In a large questionnaire of sarcoidosis patients mostly from United States and Europe conducted in spring and summer of 2020, the overall rate of COVID-19 was 2.15%, suggesting an increased rate of COVID-19 infection in sarcoidosis patients. However, when compared to non sarcoidosis patients in the same area and time of the study, the rate of COVID-19 infection was similar.Those with roommates with COVID-19 infection, worked in health care, had pulmonary or neurologic sarcoidosis, or were treated with rituximab had an increased risk for infection. No significant increased risk for hospitalization could be identified based on age, race, gender or any specific immunosuppressive treatment.
In summary, our data suggests an increased rate of COVID-19 infection in sarcoidosis patients. However, when compared to non sarcoidosis patients in the same area and time of the study, the rate of COVID-19 infection was not significantly different. In this sample of sarcoidosis patients, the most obvious risk factor for COVID-19 infection was having a roommate with COVID-19. This means that hygiene measures and distancing are extremely important at home as well as in public. To facilitate research on prevalence and risk factors of COVID-19 infection in chronic diseases, sarcoidosis specifically, it would be helpful to report in population registries not only numbers of patients with COVID-19, but also their characteristics, such as comorbidities and medication use.