The Impact of SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Unvaccinated Multiple Sclerosis Patients on Disease-Modifying Therapies
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Objective: Disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) in multiple sclerosis (MS) may affect the course and outcome of COVID-19, but withholding them could permit disease activity. This study aimed to understand the course of COVID-19 in unvaccinated patients with MS on disease-modifying therapies. Subjects and Methods: This descriptive study examined the course of COVID-19 among infected patients with MS followed up at a large tertiary center in Kuwait between March 1, 2020, and March 1, 2021. All subjects were outpatients at the time of data collection. Results: We studied 51 patients with MS confirmed to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 using real-time polymerase chain reaction. Of these patients, 33/51 were female, median age was 35 years (IQR 27-39 years), median Expanded Disability Status Scale score was 1.5 (IQR zero-3), and 47/51 had RRMS. B-cell-depleting agents (ocrelizumab and rituximab) were given to 19 patients, another 19 were on immune cell traffickers (fingolimod and natalizumab), and 13 were on other DMT treatments (alemtuzumab, cladribine, interferon-beta, dimethyl fumarate, and teriflunomide). 43/51 of these patients experienced mild COVID-19, not requiring hospitalization. None of the subjects experienced MS relapses during infection. Two patients on rituximab had a moderate course of the illness, which required hospitalization for oxygen support, but did not need mechanical ventilation; the rest of the subjects remained asymptomatic. Conclusions: These findings suggest that DMT may not adversely affect the course of COVID-19 in MS patients; however, patients on B-cell-depleting agents trended toward a worse outcome.