IBD Patients Taking Biologics Are Not More Prone to Severe COVID

October 4, 2021

SECURE-IBD is an international collaborative database monitoring COVID-19 outcomes in IBD patients. Previous reports have indicated that IBD patients on corticosteroids and mesalamine/ sulfasalazine have an increased risk of severe COVID-19, while those on TNF antagonists do not. Proceeding analysis indicated that patients on combination therapy with TNF antagonists and thiopurines also appeared to be at higher risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes; that being said, the analysis was based on a small number of reported cases. 

A recent analysis completed by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City, has concluded that there is no association indicating mesalamine/sulfasalazine and biologics cause more severe COVID-19 outcomes. Analyzing reports from March 2020 – May 2021, researchers reviewed data from over 6,000 IBD patients taking immunosuppressive drugs like thiopurines, mesalamine or sulfasalazine, TNF antagonists, and systemic corticosteroids, amongst others. More than half of patients included in the registry had Crohn’s disease, followed by ulcerative colitis

Of 27 deaths, 14 patients were taking TNF antagonists, 8 were taking integrin antagonists, and 5 were on IL-12/23 antagonists. The findings concluded, in short, that systemic corticosteroids and methotrexate were “marginally” associated with an increased odds of hospitalization and/or death, including severe COVID-19. Moreover, TNF, interleukin (IL)-12/23, and integrin antagonists were associated with a decreased odds of COVID-19-related hospitalization and/or death, to include severe COVID-19.