We systematically reviewed the literature on COVID-19 in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).
We searched PubMed, Scopus, EMBASE, CINAHL, Web of Science, Google Scholar, and World Health Organization database from December 1, 2019, to December 18, 2020. Three conference abstract databases were also searched. We included any types of studies that reported characteristics of patients with MS with COVID-19.
From an initial 2,679 publications and 3,138 conference abstracts, 87 studies (67 published articles and 20 abstracts) consisting of 4,310 patients with suspected/confirmed COVID-19 with MS met the inclusion criteria. The female/male ratio was 2.53:1, the mean (SD) age was 44.91 (4.31) years, the mean disease duration was 12.46 (2.27), the mean Expanded Disability Status Scale score was 2.54 (0.81), the relapsing/progressive ratio was 4.75:1, and 32.9% of patients had at least 1 comorbidity. The most common symptoms were fever (68.8%), followed by cough (63.9%), fatigue/asthenia (51.2%), and shortness of breath (39.5%). In total, 837 of 4,043 patients with MS with suspected/confirmed COVID-19 (20.7%) required hospitalization, and 130 of 4,310 (3.0%) died of COVID-19. Among suspected/confirmed patients, the highest hospitalization and mortality rates were in patients with no disease-modifying therapies (42.9% and 8.4%), followed by B cell–depleting agents (29.2% and 2.5%).
Our study suggested that MS did not significantly increase the mortality rate from COVID-19. These data should be interpreted with caution as patients with MS are more likely female and younger compared with the general population where age and male sex seem to be risk factors for worse disease outcome.