12 November 2021

New results published in Rheumatology calculate rates of COVID-19 infection and related deaths among people with rare autoimmune rheumatic diseases in England during the early stages of the pandemic.

In a recent episode of The Rheumatology Podcast, author Megan Rutter explained that this study builds on previous work by the team, which suggested that those with rare autoimmune rheumatic diseases such as vasculitis and lupus were more likely to die at the start of the pandemic.

She said: “At that stage it was very early, and we weren’t yet sure why people were dying. This research is the next stage along... we've looked specifically at whether people were dying from COVID-19, or whether they were dying from other reasons.”

Megan highlighted two main findings from the current work: those with rare autoimmune diseases were more likely to contract COVID-19, and were also twice as likely to die from a COVID-19 infection than the general population.

She added that lots of messaging currently surrounds reliance on vaccines, but “that’s an unanswered question in our group. I think we still need to be very cautious in this group.”

Megan's team at the University of Nottingham is now looking at later waves of the pandemic in order to see the impact of both the Delta variant and vaccines.

Read the new results