New research from Guy’s and St Thomas’ shows psoriasis patients taking immunosuppressants have high COVID-19 survival rates

Katherine Johnston (26 October, 2020)

'We can reassure our patients that the survival for people with psoriasis is high, and the risk factors for psoriasis patients are similar to those of the general population'

8245Guy's Hospital

New research from Guy’s and St Thomas’ shows that most psoriasis patients who are taking immunosuppressants have high rates of survival for COVID-19.

According to early findings from the global registry of psoriasis and Coronavirus patients, led by clinicians at Guy’s and St Thomas’, over 90 per cent of psoriasis patients taking immunosuppressants survived COVID-19.

Psoriasis is a skin condition believed to be caused by a problem with the immune system. It causes red, flaky, crusty plaques of skin covered with silvery scales and affects around two per cent of people in the UK. Severe cases can be particularly debilitating – with many affected patients being advised to shield during the pandemic.

The new findings come from the first analysis of the web-based PsoProtect registry, which has been set up to see how psoriasis and the medications that are used to treat it might influence a patient’s experience of COVID-19. 

Patients with moderate to severe psoriasis are treated with drugs that affect the immune system including biologics targeting specific immune proteins, or traditional tablet immunosuppressants. Many people with severe forms of the condition were advised to shield.

Published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the new paper analyses 374 clinician-reported cases where patients with psoriasis had COVID-19. 

The cases came from 25 countries, and were submitted between March and July 2020. Most of the patients ( 89 per cent) were taking biologics for their psoriasis (71 per cent) or traditional immunosuppressants (18 per cent).

Ninety-three per cent fully recovered from COVID-19,  21 per cent were hospitalised and nine (two per cent) died. 

The study found that, similarly to the general population, patients who were older, male, of non-white ethnicity and with other health conditions such as chronic lung disease were more likely to require hospital admission for their COVID-19 infection.

Dr Satveer Mahil, a consultant dermatologist at the St John’s Institute of Dermatology at Guy’s and St Thomas’ who co-leads the registry, said: “Our analysis is important for informing our conversations with patients as the pandemic continues.

“We can reassure our patients that the survival for people with psoriasis is high, and the risk factors for psoriasis patients are similar to those of the general population.

“These findings wouldn’t be possible without all the clinicians who have reported cases to PsoProtect and the invaluable support of our partner professional and patient organisations.”

Helen McAteer, chief executive of the Psoriasis Association said: “From the beginning of the pandemic we understood the importance of being proactive in order to address the many concerns expressed by people who are living with psoriasis.

“The PsoProtect registry is vital in helping us understand more about the interactions between psoriasis, its treatments and COVID-19 infection so as patients can make the most informed choices about their care and treatment at this challenging time.”

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