Ulcerative Colitis Resource Center
Ulcerative Colitis Resource Center
Perspective from Jessica Philpott, MD, PhD
Source/Disclosures
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
July 21, 2020
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Low incidence of SARs-CoV-2 among IBD patients on biologic therapy

Perspective from Jessica Philpott, MD, PhD
Source/Disclosures
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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Investigators found a low incidence of SARs-CoV-2 among patients with inflammatory bowel disease who were taking biologic therapy, according to recently published data in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

“Ultimately, the relatively low incidence of SARS-CoV-2 in IBD patients having biologic therapy may provide some reassurance to patients and clinicians for the continuation of these treatment methods,” Ming Hui Lee, MD, from the department of biological sciences, faculty of science at the National University of Singapore, and colleagues wrote. “Regardless, further studies on larger populations of IBD patients are needed to clarify the risks of biologics on SARS-CoV-2 incidence in IBD patients as well as in other medical conditions treated with biologics.”

In a systematic review, Lee and colleagues used Pubed, Embase and China National Knowledge Infrastructure databases to identify 183 articles that discussed the incidence of COVID-19 in patients with IBD. They ultimately reviewed 43 articles and included 10 in their final analysis. The investigators collected information regarding those patients diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2, then performed a sensitivity analysis that included only patients diagnosed from reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).

Of 249,095 patients, 309 patients with IBD tested positive for SARs-CoV-2. Additionally, of the 5,098 patients who were receiving biologic treatment, four patients tested positive for the infection. The average pooled incidence infection was 1.93 per 1,000 patients with IBD (95% CI; 0.48-7.77) and 0.68 infection per 1,000 patients with IBD who take biologics (95% CI; 0.26-1.82). In the sensitivity analysis that included RT-PCR diagnosis only, the rate of infections increased to 4.424 per 1,000 patients with IBD (95% CI; 3.82-4.7) for overall infections and 1.14 (95% CI, 0.01-94.22) for patients taking biologics.

“Existing guidelines on the clinical management of IBD patients in the COVID-19 pandemic recommend that IBD patients treated with anti-TNF, tofacitinib, ustekinumab and vedolizumab should continue with their existing therapy though it is unclear if these biologics increase the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, due to the possible risks of flares and disease exacerbation from biologics withdrawal in IBD patients with quiescent disease,” Lee and colleagues wrote.