I’ve been keen to get answers to a number of questions during this pandemic, and there’s one I keep coming back to – what has happened to people on immuno-suppressant drugs for their arthritis who have, sadly, contracted coronavirus?  I’m assured that work is going on to explore that issue – of course it would be – and now I’ve been directed to EULAR, the European League Against Rheumatism, an organisation I confess I know very little about, which is in the process of assembling a database of patients and outcomes. https://www.eular.org/eular_covid19_database.cfm

As you’ll see from the link, clinicians from across Europe are being encouraged to feed information into EULAR’s database, and to do so on a voluntary basis.  Some countries are going their own way on this, so there’s a danger of duplication, but there’s talk of the findings being merged at some point in the future.  And this paragraph points towards the regularity of future reporting:

“EULAR will provide the rheumatology community with regularly updated summary information on reported cases, including numbers of cases by country, number of cases by treatment, among others. We do not yet know the frequency of these reports but anticipate it could be as frequent as weekly. This will enable the entire rheumatology community to remain up to date regarding COVID-19 in patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs).”

Anything that starts providing answers in this area has got to be a good thing.  But a word of caution; it’s early days, the sample numbers are low, and many aspects of people’s individual circumstances aren’t highlighted at this stage.  I’m linking here to the latest figures on the database https://www.eular.org/myUploadData/files/eular_covid_19_registry_report_as_of_22_june.pdf and you can see why I might be concerned.  The percentage of people reported to the registry who are either hospitalised or who die is higher than I would have expected.  I gulped at first reading.

But then I thought……what drugs are these people taking, what is the current state of their rheumatoid/arthritic condition, what other health issues might be relevant, what of age/gender/ethnicity considerations etc. etc.?  And then it occurred to me that clinicians around Europe are more likely to report incidents of seriousness than they are to report incidents where a patient had a cough or temperature for a few days and then, thankfully, recovered.  That’s not to cast aspersions on the clinicians, the database or its value…..I wish it well…..but, like so many things during this pandemic, I guess we just have to be patient before we get the full story.