COVID-19 has changed our world. As of April 27, 2020, the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center reported over 3 million individuals worldwide have been infected with COVID-19, including 979,077 in the United States. There are about 200,000 individuals living with sarcoidosis, a rare and chronic respiratory illness in the U.S.. A group of researchers are actively seeking more information about how COVID-19 may impact the sarcoidosis community.
The Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research and University of Cincinnati launched a questionnaire for sarcoidosis patients in the middle of April. They seek to understand whether sarcoidosis patients are more likely to contract COVID-19, if they have worse outcomes than otherwise healthy individuals, and if certain medications or demographic factors affect the risks of COVID-19 in sarcoidosis patients.
To date, over 1600 sarcoidosis patients have responded to the survey. Of these, only 31 patients – less than 2%– reported having COVID-19. Most were able to be treated at home and none required mechanical ventilation. Researchers were unable to identify an increased risk associated with race, use of prednisone, or treatment with infliximab (Remicade). Also, the use of hydroxychloroquine (plaquenil) was neither protective nor a risk factor for infection. The study is ongoing and will include a follow up questionnaire in July.
The survey aims to answer questions including:
- Is a sarcoidosis patient more likely to get COVID-19 infection?
- If a sarcoidosis patient becomes infected, does he or she have a worse outcome?
- Is there increased risk if a patient is taking prednisone or other immunosuppressive drugs?
- Does taking hydroxychloroquine protect a sarcoid patient from COVID-19?
- Does race affect the risk or the outcome for COVID-19?
Listen to Dr. Bob Baughman Discuss the Results
The principal investigator on the study, Dr. Bob Baughman of the University of Cincinnati, discussed the results of the survey on the Sarc Fighter podcast. Listen below:
When COVID-19 began, there was controversy about the additional risks of sarcoidosis and treatments. This information, although only preliminary, found the rate of infection only slightly higher than the national average. Sarcoidosis patients with COVID-19 mostly did well, which is what we are seeing for many other patients.
Although more sarcoidosis patients need to participate in this survey to reach definite conclusions, these preliminary results are reassuring. These data show no obvious signal of a particularly poor outcome from COVID-19 infection in sarcoidosis patients. Furthermore, these preliminary results do not suggest steroids or other immunosuppressive medications are placing sarcoidosis patient at greater risk of poor outcome. This has been an important undertaking by the FSR.
Thank you FSR for working on getting this information together in a timely manner.