After conducting and extensive literary review on all eligible data regarding COVID-19 in patients with sickle cell disease or trait, experts discuss what is known and what needs to be better understood about the pandemic's effect on this population.
A new study examined clinical COVID-19 outcomes in patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) or sickle cell trait (SCT). Data showed that these patients are more likely to visit the emergency department (ED) and more likely to be hospitalized when compared to the general population.
This comes at a factor of 2-7 fold increase, according to Tim Duong, PhD, Professor, Vice Chair for Research Department of Radiology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center.
The evidence indicated that COVID-19 can exacerbate sickle cell symptoms, which could be why this population is more likely to check into the hospital.
"And perhaps actually, the fact that the mortality rate only increased slightly, which is surprising to us,' Duong said, "is that perhaps the fact that they checked in the hospital early might have lowered their mortality rate."
With each piece of new evidence revealed, there's even more that still needs to be understood, especially regarding COVID-19.
"Okay, patients survive," Duong said, "and a year down the line--is it going to be worse than those who did not have COVID infection, for example?"
The finidngs from this extensive literature review offer many directions to further the investigation.
For example, the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine in this population, how different sickle cell genotypes factor into COVID-19 infection response, and even how certain sickle cell therapies might affect COVID-19-related outcomes, are areas that investigators want to continue to examine, according to lead investigator Wouter Hoogenboom, PhD, Research Fellow, Department of Radiology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center.
"Sickle cell modifying therapy may be helping sickle cell patients to become less vulnerable," Hoogenboom explained. "But again, this is preliminary findings that multiple studies have reported, but does also require more follow up."