Infectious Disease

COVID-19 threat, vaccination in sufferers with bronchial asthma

March 01, 2021

2 min read

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The relationship between asthma and COVID-19 severity remains unclear. Research continues into the effects of asthma on the severity of COVID-19.

Currently, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, there is no evidence of increased infection rates in patients with asthma. Initial reports at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic indicated that patients with asthma are at high risk for severe COVID-19 and hospitalization. The CDC states that moderate to severe asthma could increase the risk of serious illness from COVID-19. Many studies have examined the relationship between COVID-19 and asthma. So far, the vast majority of these studies have not found an increased risk for the severity of COVID-19 in patients with asthma, and research does not show that asthma is a risk factor for COVID-19, according to a statement by the AAAAI.

Some research has shown that non-allergic asthma may be linked to more severe illness, but it remains unclear whether participants had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which the AAAAI says is an established risk factor for COVID-19.

A review of 150 studies published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine in January found no clear evidence of increased risk of diagnosis, hospitalization, severity, or mortality of COVID-19 in patients with asthma. The researchers concluded that the results of the review “could give asthmatics some assurance about the potential to increase the risk of severe morbidity from COVID-19”.

Healio spoke to Dr. Purvi Parikh, an adult and pediatric allergist and immunologist with the Allergy & Asthma Network and co-investigator on COVID-19 vaccine studies for Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Sanofi, on the relationship between asthma and COVID-19.

Healio: What is Known About the Relationship Between Asthma and Severe COVID-19 Infection?

Parikh: In short, patients with asthma are at greater risk for all respiratory viruses. Because COVID-19 is a respiratory and airborne virus, it can trigger asthma attacks and cause many lung complications, such as COVID-19-related pneumonia and pulmonary embolism, which can be difficult for asthmatics as their lung reserves are already depleted. Fortunately, asthma is not one of the top 10 risk factors for disease [for COVID-19] But for the other reasons, patients with asthma need to be careful. Many patients with asthma also overlap with COPD, a very high risk condition.

Healio: What adverse outcomes have you seen in patients with asthma and COVID-19?

Parikh: Many patients with asthma needed supplemental oxygen, hospitalization, and / or intensive care. Even those who did recover at home took quite a long time to get back to baseline afterwards, weeks to months – it varies – and they also needed steroids due to the lower oxygen levels. Recent studies showed that 75% of patients still have COVID-19 symptoms 8 months later.

Healio: What preventive measures can patients with asthma take to stay healthy?

Parikh: I would recommend getting the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it becomes available to you – especially for those who overlap with COPD or have other high risk diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity. Given the propensity for respiratory virus exacerbations in patients with asthma, I strongly recommend pre- and post-vaccine vaccination and mitigation factors such as masking, social distancing, and frequent hand washing.

For more informations:

Purvi Parikh, MD can be reached on Twitter at @PurviParikhmd.

References:

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