Now that Covid-19 has spread globally, there are individuals that are at a higher risk because they already have other autoimmune diseases. Recently a large group of researchers, rheumatologists and patients came together and decided to cooperate in order to better understand how covid-19 is affecting patients with autoimmune diseases.

The Covid-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance aims to answer questions that will help improve how Covid-19 and autoimmune patients are handled. Most of the data collected seems to suggest that the high risk in autoimmune patients is mostly driven by,

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Comorbidities

Challenges Facing Autoimmune Patients

Multiple autoimmune patients have had to adjust how they handle their diseases since the emergence of Covid-19. For instance there have been changes in care since it has mostly been moved to Telemedicine.

Patients have also been reluctant to visit hospitals and emergency departments even when in dire need of medical attention in fear of contracting Covid-19. Socioeconomically it has proven to be a monetary difficulty since it has multiplied expenses in terms of logistics and medication.

There are a few factors that are involved in the manifestation of an autoimmune disease in a patient and they include,

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Parasitic infections
  • Gut micro biota
  • Viral infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Hormonal factors
  • Dysregulation of the immune system
  • Environmental agents
  • Physical agents

Conditions that endanger an Autoimmune Patient

Even though it has not yet been proven that there is a connection between autoimmunity and Covid-19 it is important to be careful and have as much information as possible in order to protect ourselves.

Some drugs that are prescribed to patients with chronic inflammatory conditions and autoimmune patients compromise the immune system. Immunodeficiency’s and diseases such as HIV are also dangerous because they completely hamper the immune system.

Anti-rejection drugs that are administered after major organ transplants also severely hamper the immune system. Being of an advanced age, being pregnant also has an adverse effect on your immune system. Therefore here are a few measures you can take,

  • Listen to local officials to find out if it’s safe to leave the house.
  • If possible use Telehealth for routine visits.
  • Keep a 30day supply of self-administered drugs.
  • Stay six feet away from others in public.
  • Use anti-bacterial wipes to touch common surfaces.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Wash your hands after opening mail.
  • Family members in your home with fever or such symptoms should be completely isolated.

Conclusion

The Covid-19 pandemic has become a platform that will enable the hospital systems, physicians and patients to learn and be able to integrate new information and evolving situations into current treatment plans. Telemedicine is a good example of the effects the pandemic has had on how the health system works.

Patients with autoimmune diseases have to be prepared for the possibility that there will be shortages of essential drugs such as Hydroxychloroquine. Therefore it is imperative that these shortages be anticipated by the relevant organizations and steps taken to cushion autoimmune patients from the shortages of these life saving medications.