Cystic fibrosis

Few reported cases of COVID-19 in cystic fibrosis patients

Early data from Europe suggests that patients with cystic fibrosis are doing an exceptional job of avoiding SARS-CoV-19 infection but there is no room for complacency, experts warn.

In a letter to Lancet Respiratory Medicine Professor Kevin Southern from the Alder Hey  Children’s Hospital, Liverpool, UK, and colleagues noted that in Lombardia, Italy, there were 10 COVID-19 infections reported in people with cystic fibrosis out of 42, 161 people in the region known to have been infected. These patients lived in endemic areas and acquired the virus from family  members.

“These observations, as well as data from other European countries (five patients with cystic fibrosis in France have been reported to have SARS-CoV-2 infection, seven in the UK, five in Germany and three [one transplanted] in Spain) suggest few patients with cystic fibrosis, mainly adults, are becoming infected with SARS-CoV-19, without apparent effect on cystic fibrosis disease severity,” the group of clinicians wrote in a letter to Lancet Respiratory Medicine. 

From the available data it was not possible to identify potential protective factors such as the long-term use of antibiotics and the few reported cases may reflect the efforts of families to minimise social contacts, the clinicians said. 

“This effort might be considered a success, but there is no room for complacency and the directive for social shielding of both the patient and family members remains clear and important,” they warned.

The European Cystic Fibrosis Society patient registry has established a data collection and reporting system that, along with other international data, would contribute to identifying factors that predict severity of COVID-19, they added.

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