News from the programme area Epidemiology
Publications related to COVID-19
Evidence generation through national and global networks
The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has left patients with rheumatic diseases in an uncertain situation as it was (and still is) unclear whether they are at particular risk of suffering a severe course of COVID-19 due to their immune-mediated disease or their immunomodulatory therapy.
This situation was also difficult for the treating rheumatologists, as they had to weigh the risk of disease flares with all their negative consequences for the patient against the risk of a possibly too strongly suppressed and weakened immune system. Decisions on treatment had to be made without comparable empirical values and could not be based on available data.
In view of this situation, the research group Pharmacoepidemiology has participated in the establishment of the German and European COVID-19 registries, which include patients with inflammatory rheumatic disease and SARS-CoV-2 infection. As of August 2020, 2,561 patients are included in the European (4,293 patients globally) and 373 patients in the German register. Through participation in the respective steering groups and evaluation and analyses of the data collected within the COVID-19 registries, researchers of the programme area Epidemiology are significantly involved in gaining knowledge on the special situation of patients with autoimmune diseases under immunosuppression.
The research group on Paediatric Rheumatology and Health services research has expanded the national database of the German collaborative arthritis centres of children and adolescents suffering from rheumatic diseases by two additional modules for recording SARS-CoV-2 infections and the SARS-CoV-2-associated hyperinflammation syndrome (MIS C for “multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children”). In August, fifteen children with rheumatic diseases and SARS-CoV-2 infections and four with MIS-C were registered nationwide. Further four cases with SARS-CoV-2 infections were recorded via the BiKeR register and the register of the German Society for Paediatric Infectiology, with which we cooperate. Together with the Universities of Potsdam and Ulm, the DRFZ has also acquired the Kick Covid research project, which analyses the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the well-being and health care of children with chronic diseases associated with an increased risk of severe COVID-19 and their families.