Background: Emerging data from people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS) suggest that some disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) may impact the severity of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Objectives: We aimed to understand if MS DMTs are associated with differences in COVID-19 prevention behaviors or rate of PCR testing as a possible result of safety perceptions. Assessing such association is important for counseling MS patients.
Methods: We analyzed COVID-19 surveys sent to patients at 2 sites from the MS Partners Advancing Technology and Health Solutions (MS PATHS) network. COVID-19 prevention behaviors were assessed via questions on social distancing, mask wearing, hand hygiene, group gatherings, as well as DMT changes due to COVID-19 and frequency of PCR testing. Descriptive analysis was conducted among responders based on their self-reported current DMT.
Results: Among the initial 653 survey responders, mean (SD) age was 52.9 (11.8) years; patients on interferons (IFNs) and glatiramer acetate (GA), n=65 combined, were on average older (56.5 yrs) than patients on natalizumab (NAT, n=53) 45.7 yrs, B-cell therapies (n=203) – 50.0 yrs, and oral DMTs (n=165) – 50.6 yrs. A delay in DMT dosing was reported for 7 (3.4%) patients on B-cell DMTs vs. none for other DMTs. Self-isolation was reported by 40% of NAT patients vs approximately 60% of patients on IFN/GA, B-cell and oral DMTs. Over 90% of responders across DMTs stated keeping a 6-feet distance in public and over 80% reported wearing a mask. Hygiene recommendations were followed similarly across DMTs. The proportion of patients on high efficacy DMTs (B-cell therapies and NAT) who were PCR-tested trended higher than in patients on oral DMTs and IFN/GA 13.3%, 8.5%, 7.7%, respectively (Fishers p=0.08 for high efficacy DMTs vs oral/IFN/GA). Data from follow up surveys asking about COVID-19-related perceptions of DMTs and including a larger sample will be presented.
Conclusions: Initial survey results in an MS population suggest that patients on higher efficacy DMTs might be more likely to be tested for COVID-19 than those on IFN/GA or oral DMTs. Planned analyses of follow up survey data may reveal evolving differences in COVID-19 prevention behaviors and DMT safety perceptions over the course of the pandemic. A better understanding of the potential impact of DMTs on patient behaviors or COVID testing frequency is important for optimal counseling and for designing comparative studies across DMTs.