It is unclear whether asthma and asthma medications increase or decrease the risk of severe COVID-19, and this is particularly true for patients with severe asthma receiving biologics.
The aim of this study was to assess incidence and disease course of COVID-19 in patients with severe asthma on biologic therapy (omalizumab, mepolizumab, reslizumab, benralizumab, dupilumab), as compared with COVID-19 data from the general Dutch population.
COVID-19 cases were identified through a prospective ongoing survey between March 17 and April 30, 2020 among all severe asthma specialists from 15 hospitals of the Dutch Severe Asthma Registry RAPSODI. From these cases, data was collected on patient characteristics, including co-morbidities, COVID-19 disease progression and asthma exacerbations. Findings were then compared with COVID-19 data from the general Dutch population.
Of 634 severe asthma patients who received biologic therapy in RAPSODI, 9 (1.4%) were diagnosed with COVID-19. Seven patients (1.1%) required hospitalization for oxygen therapy, of which 5 were admitted to the intensive care for intubation and mechanical ventilation. One patient died (0.16%). All intubated patients had ≥1 co-morbidities. Odds (95%CI) for COVID-19 related hospitalization and intubations were 14 (6.6-29.5) and 41 (16.9-98.5) times higher, respectively, compared to the Dutch population. One patient presented with an asthma exacerbation.
Patients with severe asthma using biologic therapy showed to have a more severe course of COVID-19 compared to the general population. This may be due to co-morbidities, the severity of asthmatic airway inflammation, the use of biologics, or a combination of these