A global provider registry – COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance – developed by an international rheumatology community, aims to collect data on rheumatic diseases and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) to determine patterns in disease diagnosis, progression, and patient outcomes, according to a report published in The Lancet Rheumatology.

Immunocompromised patients with inflammatory rheumatic disease are considered an at-risk population for serious infections, including COVID-19. However, certain drugs, such as hydroxychloroquine, which are commonly used to treat rheumatic diseases are being tested as potential treatment for COVID-19.

Much is still unknown about the effect of COVID-19 on rheumatic disease, including the risk from immunosuppressive medications. The COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance included rheumatologists, researchers, and the patient community, all of whom convened globally to investigate relevant clinical questions during the pandemic. Members of the alliance developed online portals to collect data from patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19; registry data elements included provider name and location, and sociodemographic, rheumatic disease, and COVID-19-related-illness information. Within a week of its launch, the online data registry included 110 patients with rheumatic disease from 6 continents who had also been diagnosed with COVID-19. With the help of the registry, members of the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance hope to provide a way to identify patterns and examine patient outcomes based on various characteristics, and finally, disseminate this information to physicians, researchers, and patients.

Early data collected on the registry includes a breakdown of primary rheumatic disease, medications before COVID-19 diagnosis, common COVID-19 symptoms, and comorbid conditions. Authors of this report state that it is too early for researchers to draw definitive conclusions from collected data because of the evolving nature of the pandemic.


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The registry presented some limitations, including a bias toward more severe cases and the possible inaccuracy of estimates and analyses because of small sample size.

However, the authors of this report concluded, “Information from [the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance] database will provide timely and responsive real-world data where large literature gaps exist, informing providers of treatment patterns for individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, and offering a better understanding of possible risk factors associated with severe outcomes in the rheumatic disease population.”

Disclosure: Several authors declared affiliations with the pharmaceutical industry. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.

Reference

Gianfrancesco MA, Hyrich KL, Gossec L, Strangfeld A, Carmona L, Mateus EF. Rheumatic disease and COVID-19: initial data from the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance provider registries [published April 16, 2020]. Lancet Rheumatol. doi:10.1016/S2665-9913(20)30095-3