COVID-19 & MS
The primary objective of this microsite is collate information from the Barts-MS blog and to answer questions about COVID-19 in relation to multiple sclerosis and its treatments. You can either ask questions on the blog or via the Google form below. We will make every effort to keep up-to-date to help everyone get through the next few months.
- COVID-19 or coronavirus disease 2019 refers to the infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
- The disease was first identified in Wuhan, China, and has spread globally, resulting in a COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 infection is very non-specific; common symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Associated flu-like symptoms such as muscle pain, sputum production and sore throat are less common.
- Please note the COVID-19 refers to corona virus disease due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that was first identified in 2019.
- Please note the majority of COVID-19 cases are mild with a small number progressing to severe pneumonia and multi-organ failure. The mortality of COVID-19 is about 3%, but ranges from ~0.2% in those less than 20 years to up to 15% in those over the age of 80 years.
- Other risk factors for severe COVID-19 infection include male sex, smoking, pre-existing lung disease (e.g. severe asthma), comorbidities, in particular, hypertension and diabetes, and possibly being immunocompromised or suppressed.
- COVID-19 is spread from one person to another via respiratory droplets produced during coughing and sneezing. Time from exposure to onset of symptoms is generally between 2 and 14 days, with an average of five days.
- The standard method of diagnosis is by the molecular detection of the virus from a nasopharyngeal or throat swab. A small number of people can present with diarrhoea and the virus can be detected in the stool.
- Because the virus is an enveloped virus and has a cell-like membrane it is susceptible to detergents. Therefore frequent hand-washing is one way to prevent infection. Hand sanitizers work as well, but need to contain more than 60% alcohol to disrupt the viral envelope.
- Other preventive measures include maintaining a distance from others, and trying not to touch one's face.
- The use of face masks is more controversial. Face masks are generally recommended for those who suspect they have the virus and for healthcare workers and carers.
- At present there is no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19.
- The management of COVID-19 involves symptomatic therapies, ventilatory and other supportive care and isolation.
How safe is cladribine to use during the COVID-19 pandemic (26-April-2020)?
What about COVID-19 and pregnancy? (20-April-2020)
Is there anything I can do to prepare for having COVID-19? (17-April-2020)
Can you do a relapse assessment remotely? (09-April-2020)
Can you treat relapses remotely? (09-April-2020)
Intravenous or oral steroids to treat a relapse? (09-April-2020)
Is it safe to suspend natalizumab (Tysabri) infusions? (03-April-2020)
How does natalizumab extended interval dosing work? (03-April-2020)
What is a normal lymphocyte count? (30-March-2020)
Risk of COVID-19 Infection
Impact of COVID-19 on MS and its management
DMTs and COVID-19
The best way to answer queries is to use real-life case studies and case scenarios.
Case 1 - ocrelizumab or not?
Case 7 - ........ for more case studies please see the dedicated COVID-19 case studies page.