Protecting People with Lupus will Help Ensure Best Possible Pandemic Outcomes for All
Researchers suggest maintaining disease remission in people with lupus, especially during a pandemic infection, is extremely important to avoid unnecessary office and emergency room visits, and hospitalizations, all of which increase potential exposure to COVID-19. People with lupus should continue to take their immunosuppressive medications as they did before the pandemic. Avoid discontinuing or lowering doses of any immunosuppressive medication, unless suggested by your doctor.
There are characteristics of lupus that may result in more severe disease presentations, possibly resulting in a greater strain on the healthcare system and amplified virus exposure. The pandemic poses several areas of concern to the lupus community:
- Potential shortage of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for patients with lupus due to the redirection of supply toward treatment of COVID-19 (The Lupus Foundation of America has resources on hydroxychloroquine here).
- 15% of people with lupus develop interstitial lung disease which shares similarities with COVID-19 symptoms
- People with lupus might be at increased risk for cytokine storm during the virus course, when the immune systems triggers out-of-control and potentially fatal inflammation throughout the body
- Psychosocial effects such as, heightened concern for potential shortage of HCQ, social distancing, drastic changes to lifestyle, economic concerns, create added stress which is a well-recognized trigger that can precipitate lupus flares and increase the need for medical intervention.
Data on people with rheumatologic autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, are currently lacking. There are many efforts underway in the form of registries to report and analyze the outcome of COVID-19 in people with rheumatological diseases, including the EULAR-COVID-19 Database and the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance Registry, which the Lupus Foundation of America supports. The data these registries capture will be particularly fruitful to understand how lupus will affect the susceptibility and disease course of COVID-19 in people with lupus.
Follow the Lupus Foundation of America to stay updated on the latest regarding coronavirus and lupus.