The incidence and outcomes of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in immunocompromised patients are a matter of debate.
Prospective nationwide study including a consecutive cohort of liver transplant patients with Covid-19 recruited during the Spanish outbreak from February 28 to April 7, 2020. The primary outcome was severe Covid-19, defined as the need for mechanical ventilation, intensive care, and/or death. Age- and gender-standardized incidence and mortality ratios (SIR and SMR) were calculated using data from the Ministry of Health and the Spanish liver transplant registry. Independent predictors of severe Covid-19 among hospitalized patients were analyzed using multivariate Cox regression.
A total of 111 liver transplant patients were diagnosed with Covid-19 (SIR=191.2 [95%CI 190.3-192.2]). The epidemiological curve and geographic distribution overlapped widely between liver transplant and general populations. After a median follow-up of 23 days, 96 patients (86.5%) were admitted to hospital and 22 patients (19.8%) required respiratory support. Twelve patients were admitted to the ICU (10.8%). The mortality rate was 18%, being lower compared to the matched general population (SMR=95.5 [95%CI 94.2-96.8]). Thirty-five patients (31.5%) met criteria of severe Covid-19. Baseline immunosuppression containing mycophenolate was an independent predictor of severe Covid-19 (RR=3.94; 95%CI 1.59-9.74; p=0.003), particularly at doses higher than 1,000 mg/day (p=0.003). This deleterious effect was not observed with calcineurin inhibitors or everolimus and complete immunosuppression withdrawal showed no benefit.
Being chronically immunosuppressed, liver transplant patients have an increased risk of acquiring Covid-19 but their mortality rates are lower than matched general population. Upon hospital admission, mycophenolate dose reduction or withdrawal could help in preventing severe Covid-19. However, complete immunosuppression withdrawal should be discouraged.
Copyright © 2020 European Association for the Study of the Liver. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.