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COVID-19 infection in a northern-Italian cohort of systemic lupus erythematosus assessed by telemedicine
  1. Emanuele Bozzalla Cassione1,2,
  2. Giovanni Zanframundo1,2,
  3. Alessandro Biglia1,2,
  4. Veronica Codullo1,2,
  5. Carlomaurizio Montecucco1,2,
  6. Lorenzo Cavagna1,2
  1. 1 Rheumatology, Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo, Pavia, Lombardia, Italy
  2. 2 University of Pavia, Department of Internal Medicine and Medical Therapeutics, Pavia, Lombardia, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Professor Carlomaurizio Montecucco, Rheumatology, Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo, Pavia 27100, Italy; montecucco{at}

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The COVID-19 pandemic deeply affected northern-Italian regions.1 Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna had the highest cumulative incidence with 627.1 and 470.53 cases/100 000 inhabitants respectively on 16 April 2020 according to Italian ‘Istituto Superiore di Sanità’ (ISS). While a mild course has been reported in patients with chronic arthritis treated with targeted immunosuppressive agents,2 few and controversial data are available about COVID-19 in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).3 4 To this purpose, since 6 April 2020, given the mobility restriction imposed nationwide, we initiated a telemedicine project aimed at ensuring regular follow-up, starting from SLE patients.5 During the visit, we conducted a survey to investigate any COVID-19 related symptoms that occurred since 15 February 2020 and the results of available nasopharyngeal swabs. The survey was addressed to patients coming from Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna. We evaluated 165 patients (112 females, 84%, median age 52.5 years, range 25–81; median disease duration 13 years, range 1–53). Among them, 127 (77%) were on hydroxychloroquine …

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  • Handling editor Josef S Smolen

  • EBC and GZ contributed equally.

  • Contributors Study design: LC, VC and CM. Telemedicine visits and data collection: EBC, GZ, AB and LC. Data analysis: LC and VC. Manuscript drafting: EBC, GZ. Manuscript review: LC, AB, VC and CM. Final approval: all authors.

  • 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 Not required.

  • Ethics approval All subjects agreed to participate in this survey and provided the informed consent as approved by our Institutional Review Board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.