Asthmatic patients should not fear Covid

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The debate whether asthmatic patients are more prone to Covid-19 or safer rages on.

Does inhaled corticosteroids, which are commonly used to protect against asthma attacks, a saviour for asthmatic patients? Researchers have found that while older age and conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and obesity are prone to progression of Covid-19, the same is not true for persons with asthma.

The study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, said that inhaled corticosteroids, which are commonly used to protect against asthma attacks, may reduce the virus’ ability to establish an infection.

However, many studies have shown that steroids may decrease the body’s immune response and worsen the inflammatory response.

Researchers from Rutgers University in the US found that people with asthma – even those with diminished lung function who are being treated to manage asthmatic inflammation – seem to be no worse affected by SARS-CoV-2 than a non-asthmatic person.

“Older age and conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and obesity are reported risk factors for the development and progression of Covid-19,” said Reynold A. Panettieri Jr, a pulmonary critical care physician and director of the Rutgers Institute for Translational Medicine and Science.

But then, asthma is not yet proven as one such risk factor.

“There is limited data as to why this is the case – if it is physiological or a result of the treatment to manage the inflammation,” said Panettieri Jr.

Children and young adults with asthma suffer mainly from allergic inflammation, while older adults who experience the same type of airway inflammation can also suffer from eosinophilic asthma — a more severe form.

In these cases, people experience abnormally high levels of a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infection, which can cause inflammation in the airways, sinuses, nasal passages and lower respiratory tract, potentially making them more at risk for a serious case of Covid-19.

In addition, an enzyme attached to the cell membranes in the lungs, arteries, heart, kidney and intestines that has been shown to be an entry point for SARS-CoV-2 into cells is increased in response to the virus.

“This enzyme is also thought to be beneficial in clearing other respiratory viruses, especially in children. How this enzyme affects the ability of Covid-19 to infect people with asthma is still unclear,” said the study.

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