21 August 2021

BSR member Dr Megan Rutter has released new new research, financed by our Research Funding Call, showing that people with rare autoimmune rheumatic diseases are at an increased risk of developing COVID-19 and subsequently dying from it.

They study, which looked at nearly 170,000 people in England with rare autoimmune rheumatic diseases, found that this population was 54% more likely to test positive for COVID-19. The research also revealed that COVID-19-related deaths were 2.4 times more likely than for people in the general population when age was taken into account.

Dr Rutter said: “These findings are particularly important as recently published data show that people who are immunosuppressed... can have lower levels of protection from COVID-19 vaccination due to a weaker immune response.

"It is now vital that the health of people with these conditions is made a specific priority in public health policy, particularly now all restrictions have been lifted and community infection rates are high.”

Our President Dr Sanjeev Patel added: “BSR continues to support researchers in understanding the impact of COVID-19 on health outcomes in people with rare rheumatic conditions.”

Paul Howard, Chief Executive of LUPUS UK, said: "We hope these findings encourage employers and policymakers to take additional measures to safeguard people living with these diseases."

You too could secure funding for your rheumatology research; make sure you apply for the next Research Funding Call, opening on 23 September.

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