BACKGROUND: Disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) for multiple sclerosis (MS) target immunity and have the potential to increase the risk of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and alter its clinical course . We assessed these risks in patients with MS (PwMS).
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to describe the overall risk of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection, severe disease course, and potential population-level predictors of COVID-19 infection in PwMS, and to provide a context using a cohort of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). In addition, the association of different MS DMTs with the incidence and clinical course of COVID-19 was evaluated . Safety data from the Biogen Global Safety Database are also presented on reported cases of COVID-19 in patients treated with Biogen MS therapies .
METHODS: The IBM ® Explorys electronic health record database of> 72,000,000 patients from US healthcare networks identified patients with MS or SLE, with and without polymerase chain reaction-confirmed COVID-19 . COVID-19 cumulative incidence, hospitalization, and deaths among DMT classes were compared using logistic regression (adjusted for age, sex, body mass index, comorbidities, and race/ethnicity). As a secondary data source to assess safety data, COVID-19 reports for Biogen MS therapies were extracted and described from Biogen's Global Safety Database .
RESULTS: 30,478 PwMS with an open DMT prescription were identified within Explorys; 344 were COVID-19 positive . The most significant risk factors for acquiring COVID-19 were comorbidity score ≥ 1, body mass index ≥ 30, and Black/African ancestry . Similar risk factors were also identified for patients with SLE . Patients with MS were less likely to develop COVID-19 when treated with interferons (0.61 %) and glatiramer acetate (0.51 %), vs all other MS DMTs (both p <0.001); anti-CD20 therapy was associated with the highest risk (3.45% ; p <0.0001). In the Biogen Global Safety Database, we identified 1217 patients who were COVID-19 positive treated with intramuscular interferon beta-1a, peginterferon beta-1a, natalizumab, dimethyl fumarate, diroximel fumarate, or fampridine.
CONCLUSIONS: Comorbidities, obesity, and Black/African ancestry, but not age, were associated with a higher risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection in PwMS . Interferons and glatiramer acetate were associated with a reduced COVID-19 risk, whereas anti-CD20 therapies were associated with an increased risk, within the treated MS cohort . COVID-19 safety reports for patients receiving Biogen MS therapies were consistent with the Explorys database and MS literature, illustrating the replicability and power of this approach.