Asthma patients are not at greater risk from COVID-19

According to research published in the European Respiratory Journal  amongst patients hospitalized for COVID-19, those patients also suffering from asthma do not present an increased risk of developing a severe form of the disease.

The disease caused by COVID-19 is characterised in its severe forms by pneumonia leading to a potentially fatal acute respiratory distress syndrome. There is therefore natural concern over the potential increased risk in patients with asthma. 

Other lung viruses or 'respiratory tropism viruses', include the following:

  • rhinovirus,
  • respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and
  • influenza viruses, etc

These viruses are the main cause of asthma 'exacerbation' and may be associated with severe respiratory episodes in asthmatic patients. Several disease models or 'pathophysiological mechanisms' have been suggested to explain why asthma patients are more susceptible to these viral infections. 

It appears that a reduced anti-viral immune response is caused by production of response molecules known as interleukins, which in turn promote eosinophilic and allergic reactions. However, this response is believed to reduce innate immune responses and particularly the synthesis of the various types of interferons essential to the antiviral response.  

Asthma patients at no worse risk

However, asthma patients do not appear to be affected more than any other patients. In fact, COVID-19  infection is less likely to exacerbate asthma than other respiratory viral infections. Furthermore, there is no evidence to suggest increased illness or mortality in these patients. Treatment of asthma was generally not altered during hospitalisation. Continued treatment does not appear to be detrimental in patients with asthma infected with COVID-19. 

This research was conducted at Paris-Saclay University, which brings together ten university components. The university has 48,000 students, 9,000 teacher-researchers and 11,000 technical and administrative staff. Located south of Paris, the University has a predominantly scientific focus and is also recognised for its training in the human and social sciences. Paris-Saclay University operates in a classified natural environment, close to Paris, and at the heart of a dynamic economic hub.

Has a sudden onset. Full medical glossary
A substance that acts against viruses, for example and antiviral drug. Full medical glossary
A respiratory disease featuring attacks of breathlessness and wheezing due to inflammation and narrowing of the upper airways. There is often an allergic component. Full medical glossary
One of the three main food constituents (with carbohydrate and protein), and the main form in which energy is stored in the body. Full medical glossary
A viral infection affecting the respiratory system. Full medical glossary
The basic unit of genetic material carried on chromosomes. Full medical glossary
Invasion by organisms that may be harmful, for example bacteria or parasites. Full medical glossary
A viral infection affecting the respiratory system. Full medical glossary
A substance that can inhibit viral growth. Full medical glossary
An element present in haemoglobin in the red cells. Full medical glossary
Inflammation of one or both lungs. Full medical glossary
Relating to injury or concern. Full medical glossary
A microbe that is only able to multiply within living cells. Full medical glossary
Microbes that are only able to multiply within living cells. Full medical glossary