Multiple sclerosis and COVID‐19: The Swedish experience

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges for healthcare management of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Concerns regarding vulnerability to infections and disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) and their complications have been raised. Recent published guidelines on the use of DMTs in relation to COVID-19 in MS patients have been diverse between countries with lack of evidence-based facts. In Sweden, there exists a particular interest in anti-CD20 therapy as a possible risk factor for severe COVID-19 due to the large number of rituximab-treated patients off-label in the country. Rapid responses from the Swedish MS Association (SMSS) and the Swedish MS registry (SMSreg) have resulted in national guidelines on DMT use for MS patients and implementation of a COVID-19 module in the SMSreg. Recently updated guidelines also included recommendations on COVID-19 vaccination with regard to the different DMTs. Social distancing policies forced implementation of telemedicine consultation to replace in-person consultations as part of regular MS health care. Patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) in SMSreg have been useful in this respect. This paper reports our experiences on the progress of national MS health care during the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to offering an overview of the present scientific context.

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