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Patients with NMOSD have increased COVID-19 risks, as determined by this meta-analysis.

Individual susceptibility to COVID-19, as well as the ultimate outcome of the disease, can vary widely depending on comorbidities. This study, published in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders, sought to determine the clinical features of COVID-19 in patients with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD). This study is a meta-analysis that relied on data from studies published between December 1, 2019 to July 2, 2021, and included data on patients with NMOSD who contracted COVID-19, the prevalence of COVID-19 among this population group, and infection outcomes.

Out of 540 records, 23 studies, including 112 patients with both NMOSD and COVID-19 met the criteria. Nine of these reported on the risk of COVID-19, and nine studies on ultimate disease outcomes were included in a quantitative synthesis conducted by the researchers. The pooled prevalence of COVID-19 was 1.2%, with a hospitalization rate of 33.7%. A total of 52.9% received rituximab treatment, 15.4% were admitted to the ICU, and the mortality rate was 3.3%. Thirty-eight of the patients (48.7%) reported at least one comorbidity. The mean age of participants was 40.8 years, and the data showed 3.35 females for every one male. Symptoms of COVID-19 generally mirrored those found in the population at large, with fever, fatigue, headache, and cough being the most common.

The authors concluded that NMOSD patients, and in particular those that are treated with rituximab, had significant comorbidities that required attention and intervention. They note that, at this time, their findings are not sufficiently robust to definitively establish an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 or developing a severe infection in this group, but further data could show this correlation.

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Barzegar, M., Mirmosayyeb, O., Ebrahimi, N., Bagherieh, S., Afshari-Safavi, A., Hosseinabadi, A. M., . . . Asgari, N. (2022). COVID-19 susceptibility and outcomes among patients with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD): A systematic review and meta-analysis. Mult Scler Relat Disord, 57, 103359. doi:10.1016/j.msard.2021.103359