Data collection should provide knowledge about covid 19 and rheumatic disease

Data collection should provide knowledge about covid 19 and rheumatic disease

The Swedish Rheumatological Association (SRF) is involved in and contributes to international cooperation in producing information on how covid-19 affects people with rheumatic disease. Elsa spoke with Lotta Ljung, who works with SRQ, the Swedish Rheumatology Quality Register.

How does covid-19 affect people with rheumatic conditions?

Early in the covid-19 pandemic, an international collaboration was started to answer questions about Covid-19 and rheumatic disease. Important questions include whether the disease is dangerous for people with rheumatic diseases and who are receiving immunosuppressive treatment. When it comes to a new disease, such as covid-19, it is important to try to find out as much as possible, as soon as possible.

It started with a platform in the US to record data from people with rheumatic diseases who have contracted covid-19. Patients who have rheumatic disease and are tested positive for the virus or become ill with covid-19 are registered here. That is, both those without symptoms or a very mild disease and those with a more serious course of the disease. Europe then also created a register linked to the European Organization against Rheumatism, EULAR.

In Sweden, we have the Swedish Rheumatology Quality Register, SRQ, a secure system that already contains data from many patients. The European form was modified for Swedish conditions and has now begun to be used by healthcare professionals. The register deals with both rheumatic diseases and the onset of covid-19. Symptoms, progression, diagnosis and any complications are recorded. There are also questions about how the rheumatic diagnosis was handled during the covid-19 infection.

Data from SRQ in Sweden will be sent anonymously to England and will also be used in the international register. There are currently 29 people in the Swedish register and data from their registrations will be sent to England at the end of May.

Why was the register created?

To date, we have not seen that rheumatic disease or immunosuppressive treatment is a risk factor for the development of a more severe disease course in covid-19, but the calculations made so far have been general. We know rheumatic diseases cover a wide range, from the most mild diseases, which may not require any treatment at all, to people who are very seriously ill and take a lot of medication. We need more detailed knowledge about various rheumatic diseases and treatments to know we are giving patients and staff the best advice.

It is important to examine more data through our register, mainly in order to be able to identify possible risk factors for severe covid-19 disease that can be linked to the rheumatic disease. There are also theories that certain immunosuppressive drugs could have positive effects in certain stages of covid-19 disease.

The second reason is therefore to be able to observe whether any anti-rheumatic treatment would be particularly beneficial. It could affect how we choose treatments for people with rheumatic disease, but also provide insights into the virus and the covid-19 disease.

Read more:

Svensk reumatologi - Vägledning för vårdpersonal och patienter med reumatologisk sjukdom angående utbrott av COVID-19
SRQ - Svensk Reumatologis Kvalitetsregister
Global Rheumatology Alliance - Covid-19
EULAR - Covid-19