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Temporal trends in COVID-19 outcomes among patients with systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases: from the first wave through the initial Omicron wave


Objectives To investigate temporal trends in incidence and severity of COVID-19 among patients with systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases (SARDs) from the first wave through the initial Omicron wave.

Methods We conducted a retrospective cohort study investigating COVID-19 outcomes among patientswith SARD systematically identified to have confirmed COVID-19 from 1 March 2020 to 31 January 2022 at Mass General Brigham. We tabulated COVID-19 counts of total and severe cases (hospitalisations or deaths) and compared the proportion with severe COVID-19 by calendar period and by vaccination status. We used logistic regression to estimate the ORs for severe COVID-19 for each period compared with the early COVID-19 period (reference group).

Results We identified 1449 patients with SARD with COVID-19 (mean age 58.4 years, 75.2% female, 33.9% rheumatoid arthritis). There were 399 (28%) cases of severe COVID-19. The proportion of severe COVID-19 outcomes declined over calendar time (p for trend <0.001); 46% of cases were severe in the early COVID-19 period (1 March 2020–30 June 2020) vs 15% in the initial Omicron wave (17 December 2021–31 January 2022; adjusted OR 0.29, 95% CI 0.19 to 0.43). A higher proportion of those unvaccinated were severe compared with not severe cases (78% vs 60%).

Conclusions The proportion of patients with SARD with severe COVID-19 has diminished since early in the pandemic, particularly during the most recent time periods, including the initial Omicron wave. Advances in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 may have improved outcomes among patients with SARD.

  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Covid-19
  • Vaccination

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. This study includes patient data from Mass General Brigham. The data that support the findings of this study may be made available upon reasonable request by contacting the corresponding author, JAS.

This article is made freely available for personal 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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