Black, Latinx, and Asian Patients with Rheumatic Disease Are More Likely to be Hospitalized for COVID-19

The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on racial/ethnic minorities has been reported. A commentary published last month in The New England Journal of Medicine highlighted its devastating impact on the Latinx community in particular. Also of concern is the well-being of patients with autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. And according to new research, minority patients with rheumatic disease and COVID-19 are more likely than white patients to be hospitalized.

The study included data on U.S. patients with rheumatic disease and COVID-19 who were included in the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance physician registry between March 24 and August 26. Race was divided into White, Black, Latinx, Asian, and other/mixed race. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated with multivariable regression models adjusted for age, sex, smoking, rheumatic disease diagnosis, comorbidities, medications taken before infection, and rheumatic disease activity.

The registry yielded data on 1,324 patients. More than a third of the cohort (36%) were hospitalized, and 6% of patients died. Among the hospitalized patients, more than a quarter (26%) required mechanical ventilation. Upon multivariable analyses, compared to White patients, the odds of being hospitalized were greater for Black (OR=2.74; 95% CI, 1.90–3.95), Latinx (OR=1.71; 95% CI, 1.18–2.49), and Asian (OR=2.69; 95% CI, 1.16­–6.24) patients. Latinx patients, compared to White patients, were significantly more likely to require ventilatory support (OR=3.25; 95% CI, 1.75–6.05). The study authors did not observe a correlation between race/ethnicity and mortality, but they acknowledged that the study may not have powered to identify any potential correlations.

“Similar to the general population, Black, Latinx, and Asian individuals with rheumatic diseases are more likely to experience severe outcomes of COVID-19. These data suggest that the current pandemic will further exacerbate the health disparities that already exist for many patients with rheumatic disease,” said senior author Jinoos Yazdany, MD, MPH, of the University of California, San Francisco, in a press release.

The results were published in Arthritis & Rheumatology.

Dr. Yazdany and colleagues concluded in their paper, “The rheumatology community should proactively address the needs of patients currently experiencing inequitable health outcomes during the pandemic.”