COVID-19 Versus Seasonal Influenza Outcomes in Autoimmune Disease Patients 

March 29, 2021

A recent multi-national study evaluated 30-day outcomes in hospitalized COVID-19 patients living with autoimmune disease (AD). Data was aggregated from centers including Columbia University Irving Medical Center and Information System for Research in Primary Care-Hospitalisation Linked Data in Spain. 133,589 patients diagnosed and 48,428 hospitalized with COVID-19 and living with autoimmune disease were included in the study.  
This international study used inpatient electronic health records (EHR) to collect and compare data of autoimmune disease patients infected with COVID-19 (between January and June 2020) to those infected with seasonal influenza (between 2017-2018). The most prevalent autoimmune diseases reported in the study were psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and vasculitis. 

Data showed that roughly 30% of patients infected with COVID-19 were hospitalized while roughly 17% of influenza patients were hospitalized. On average, 30% of COVID-19 patients developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) compared to 22% of seasonal influenza patients. Overall, hospitalized patients with COVID-19 and living with autoimmune disease experienced higher mortality rates and intensive care requirements compared to seasonal influenza patients (1).

This study highlights the prevalence of respiratory complications in COVID-19 patients versus influenza patients. It is clear that patients with autoimmune disease are at risk of more severe outcomes, complications, and higher mortality rates after COVID-19 infection compared to influenza. This data is especially significant to confute assertions that the severity of COVID-19 parallels seasonal influenza; those who are immunocompromised should continue to take proper preventative measures to decrease the risk of infection.