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The Relationship Between Asthma and COVID-19

June2020image004Adults with asthma are more at risk at developing severe illness if they contract COVID-19, according to a study conducted by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Massachusetts General Hospital. The first to specifically examine the link between asthma and coronavirus, the study revealed another crucial finding: the risk was largely driven by non-allergic asthma rather than allergy-induced asthma.

The research team analyzed nearly 500,000 participants in the UK Biobank and found that 65,677 patients had asthma and 641 had severe COVID-19. After adjusting for factors such as age, sex and body mass index, researchers found having non-allergic asthma increased the risk of severe COVID-19 by as much as 48%. That number jumped to 82% for patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, patients with allergic asthma had no significant relationship to COVID-19.

“Despite reasonable speculation that asthma could be a risk factor for severe COVID-19, rigorous, population-based research is needed to know whether asthma and its major subtypes actually increase risk,” said Liming Liang, corresponding author of the study and associate professor of statistical genetics at Harvard Chan School. “Based on these new findings, clinicians can improve risk-stratification and target COVID-19 prevention in patients with asthma, particularly those with non-allergic asthma.”

Aside from proving a link between COVID-19 and asthma, it could also give a measure of reassurance to the millions of people around the world who have allergies that they are not at an increased risk of contracting severe COVID-19.

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