Study Finds That SLE Diagnosis Doubles Risk of Death From COVID Infection

October 13, 2021

Data coming from Brazil has indicated that those living with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are at higher risk of acute respiratory death syndrome (ARDS) from COVID-19 than the general population. ARDS is responsible for up to 20% of COVID-19 deaths in Brazil, and includes a positive COVID-19 PCR test and flu-like symptoms, “in addition to any of the following criteria: dyspnea/ respiratory discomfort, persistent pressure in the chest, desaturation less than 95% in room air, or having a bluish color of the lips or face.”

Lupus patients are known to be more susceptible to infections due to chronic inflammatory autoimmune dysregulation, as well as the use of immunosuppressive drugs. These factors may also be associated with a higher risk for SARS-CoV-2 and severe COVID-19.

The data presented in this report included 319 SLE patients with a positive SARS-CoV-2 infection. It was determined that the risk of death from COVID-19 induced ARDS was more than double for those with SLE. The positive cohort analysis also revealed that patients with SLE were younger in age and more often women. The data was compiled using 2020 COVID-19 patient profiles, when vaccines were not available. Analysis of future data will determine whether vaccination decreases risk amongst this population.