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Corona virus and multiple sclerosis
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Advice for the Covid-19 epidemic

Last update May 8, 2020

We have been closely monitoring the evolving corona virus epidemic. Our concern is that the medicines used for treating MS all affect the immune system in some way, and we don’t know to what degree your MS treatment will reduce your ability to respond to an infection with the coronavirus. This update contains new information available to us as of May 8, 2020. 

There is a nationwide registry collecting reports of outcomes in people with MS infected with coronavirus.  So far, they have collected 156 case reports.  Forty six were hospitalized, 8 in the ICU, with 6 reported deaths.  The people who died tended to be older, male, with more severe disability from MS, and with other comorbidities that increased their risk.  The infected patients were on a wide variety of MS treatments. 

I also received a report from Genentech concerning patients on Ocrevus.  They are aware of 74 confirmed infections, with 39 of them hospitalized.  They did not report any fatal infections. 

The take home messages from this new information are:

1.    There does not appear to be an increased risk from any particular MS medicine. 

2.    The risk factors for severe infection in MS patients are the same as those for the general population. 

Our best current advice remains consistent.  If you are on a disease modifying treatment for MS, you should continue it. You should carefully follow the recommendations on social distancing, handwashing, etc. given to people in general. If you have additional risk factors, such as lung problems or heart disease or age over 60, you should be particularly careful.

 

We are now doing most of our clinic visits by telemedicine, with in person visits when needed. If you have questions about your particular situation, you can call and schedule a new telemedicine visit to address those with us. We also request that you let us know if you do get an infection or are diagnosed with the coronavirus.

This is a rapidly evolving situation, and we will let you know if we get any information regarding increased risk for any group of MS patients.  I plan to update this page regularly as new information comes in.  

J. William Lindsey, MD
University of Texas Multiple Sclerosis Research Group
Houston, Texas

copyright 2007-2020 John William Lindsey