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Coronavirus disease 2019 outcomes among patients with rheumatic diseases 6 months into the pandemic


Objective In earlier studies, patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal disease (RMD) who got infected with COVID-19 had a higher risk of mechanical ventilation than comparators. We sought to determine COVID-19 outcomes among patients with RMD 6 months into the pandemic.

Methods We conducted a cohort study at Mass General Brigham in Boston, Massachusetts, of patients with RMD matched to up to five comparators by age, sex and COVID-19 diagnosis date (between 30 January 2020 and 16 July 2020) and followed until last encounter or 18 August 2020. COVID-19 outcomes were compared using Cox regression. Risk of mechanical ventilation was compared in an early versus a recent cohort of patients with RMD.

Results We identified 143 patients with RMD and with COVID-19 (mean age 60 years; 76% female individuals) and 688 comparators (mean age 59 years; 76% female individuals). There were no significantly higher adjusted risks of hospitalisation (HR: 0.87, 95% CI: 0.68–1.11), intensive care unit admission (HR: 1.27, 95% CI: 0.86–1.86), or mortality (HR: 1.02, 95% CI: 0.53–1.95) in patients with RMD versus comparators. There was a trend towards a higher risk of mechanical ventilation in the RMD cohort versus comparators, although not statistically significant (adjusted HR: 1.51, 95% CI: 0.93–2.44). There was a trend towards improvement in mechanical ventilation risk in the recent versus early RMD cohort (10% vs 19%, adjusted HR: 0.44, 95% CI: 0.17–1.12).

Conclusions Patients with RMD and comparators had similar risks of poor COVID-19 outcomes after adjusting for race, smoking and comorbidities. The higher risk of mechanical ventilation in the early RMD cohort was no longer detected in a recent cohort, suggesting improved management over time.

  • autoimmune diseases
  • epidemiology
  • outcome assessment
  • health care

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. This study includes deidentified patient data from Mass General Brigham. All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

This article is made freely available for use in accordance with BMJ’s website terms and conditions for the duration of the covid-19 pandemic or until otherwise determined by BMJ. You may use, download and print the article for any lawful, non-commercial purpose (including text and data mining) provided that all copyright notices and trade marks are retained.

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