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The current outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) disease 2019 (COVID-19) represents a source of concern for the management of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Indeed patients with SLE have an increased risk of severe infections due to intrinsic perturbations of their immune response, the use of immunosuppressive drugs, as well as the potential presence of organ damage associated with their disease. In this context, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), a drug that is currently part of the long-term, standard-of-care treatment for SLE, has been reported to possess antiviral activity in vitro, and recent results from a preliminary clinical trial might support its use in curative or even prophylactic treatment for COVID-19.1–3
During the first days of the COVID-19 outbreak in France, we launched an observational study with the aim to follow the clinical course of COVID-19 in patients with SLE who received long-term treatment with HCQ. To be eligible, patients with SLE had to (1) fulfil the 1997 criteria of the SLE classifications of the American College of Rheumatology or those of the 2019 European League Against Rheumatism/American College of Rheumatology4 5; (2) be on long-term treatment with HCQ; and (3) have SARS-CoV-2 carriage in their nasopharyngeal swab, as confirmed by real-time reverse transcription PCR analysis.
Handling editor Josef S Smolen
Contributors AM and ZA contributed to the conception and design of the study. AM, MM, JR, MR, FC-A, BA-B, AB, CC, TC, MiD, MaD, RE, JF, NF, JH, MH, LJ, RL, TM, GR-C, JBP, MP, LP, PR, ER, DS, PS, CM-P, J-FV, J-SV, NB, NZ and BG were involved in the acquisition of data. AM, HY and ZA contributed to the analysis and interpretation of data. All authors contributed to drafting and/or revising the manuscript.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.
Patient consent for publication Patients were informed that data collected in medical records might be used for research study in accordance with privacy rules.
Ethics approval This observational study was based on data extracted from medical records, in strict compliance with the French reference methodology MR‐004, established by the French National Commission on Informatics and Liberty (CNIL), in accordance with the French law, including the GPRD. This study was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of Sorbonne University (CER-2020-12).
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.