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Bsteh G, Assar H, Hegen H, Heschl B, Leutmezer F, Di Pauli F, Gradl C, Traxler G, Zulehner G, Rommer P, Wipfler P, Guger M, Enzinger C, Berger T; AUT-MuSC investigators. COVID-19 severity and mortality in multiple sclerosis are not associated with immunotherapy: Insights from a nation-wide Austrian registry. PLoS One. 2021 Jul 27;16(7):e0255316.

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic challenges neurologists in counselling patients with multiple sclerosis (pwMS) regarding their risk by SARS-CoV-2 and in guiding disease-modifying treatment (DMT).

Objective: To characterize the prevalence and outcome of COVID-19 in pwMS specifically associated with different DMT in a nationwide population-based study.

Methods: We included patients aged ≥18 years with a confirmed diagnosis of MS and a diagnosis of COVID-19 established between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020. We classified COVID-19 course as either mild, severe or fatal. Impact of DMT and specifically immunosuppressants (alemtuzumab, cladribine, fingolimod, ocrelizumab or rituximab) on COVID-19 outcome was determined by multivariable models, adjusted for a-priori-risk.

Results: Of 126 MS patients with COVID-19 (mean age 43.2 years [SD 13.4], 71% female), 86.5% had a mild course, 9.5% a severe course and 3.2% died from COVID-19. A-priori-risk significantly predicted COVID-19 severity (R2 0.814; p<0.001) and mortality (R2 0.664; p<0.001). Adjusting for this a-priori-risk, neither exposure to any DMT nor exposure to specific immunosuppressive DMT were significantly associated with COVID-19 severity (odds ratio [OR] 1.6; p = 0.667 and OR 1.9; p = 0.426) or mortality (OR 0.5; p = 0.711 and 2.1; 0.233) when compared to no DMT.

Conclusions: In a population-based MS cohort, COVID-19 outcome was not associated with exposure to DMT and immunosuppressive DMT when accounting for other already known risk factors. This provides reassuring evidence that COVID-19 risk can be individually anticipated in MS and-except for a very small proportion of high-risk patients-treatment decisions should be primarily focused on treating MS rather than the pandemic.

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TVijenthira A, Gong I, Betschel SD, Cheung M, Hicks LK. Vaccine response following anti-CD20 therapy: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 905 patients. Blood Adv. 2021 Jun 21;5(12):2624-2643. doi: 10.1182/bloodadvances.2021004629. PMID: 34152403; PMCID: PMC8216656.

The objective of this study was to perform a systematic review of the literature on vaccine responsiveness in patients who have received anti-CD20 therapy. PubMed and EMBASE were searched up to 4 January 2021 to identify studies of vaccine immunogenicity in patients treated with anti-CD20 therapy, including patients with hematologic malignancy or autoimmune disease. The primary outcomes were seroprotection (SP), seroconversion (SC), and/or seroresponse rates for each type of vaccine reported. As the pandemic influenza vaccine (2009 H1N1) has standardized definitions for SP and SC, and represented a novel primary antigen similar to the COVID-19 vaccine, meta-analysis was conducted for SC of studies of this vaccine. Pooled estimates, relative benefit ratios (RBs), and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using a random-effects model. Thirty-eight studies (905 patients treated with anti-CD20 therapy) were included (19 studies of patients with hematologic malignancies). Patients on active (<3 months since last dose) anti-CD20 therapy had poor responses to all types of vaccines. The pooled estimate for SC after 1 pandemic influenza vaccine dose in these patients was 3% (95% CI, 0% to 9%), with an RB of 0.05 (95% CI, 0-0.73) compared with healthy controls and 0.22 (95% CI, 0.09-0.56) compared with disease controls. SC compared with controls seems abrogated for at least 6 months following treatment (3-6 months post anti-CD20 therapy with an RB of 0.50 [95% CI, 0.24-1.06] compared with healthy and of 0.44 [95% CI, 0.23-0.84] compared with disease controls). For all vaccine types, response to vaccination improves incrementally over time, but may not reach the level of healthy controls even 12 months after therapy.The objective of this study was to perform a systematic review of the literature on vaccine responsiveness in patients who have received anti-CD20 therapy. PubMed and EMBASE were searched up to 4 January 2021 to identify studies of vaccine immunogenicity in patients treated with anti-CD20 therapy, including patients with hematologic malignancy or autoimmune disease. The primary outcomes were seroprotection (SP), seroconversion (SC), and/or seroresponse rates for each type of vaccine reported. As the pandemic influenza vaccine (2009 H1N1) has standardized definitions for SP and SC, and represented a novel primary antigen similar to the COVID-19 vaccine, meta-analysis was conducted for SC of studies of this vaccine. Pooled estimates, relative benefit ratios (RBs), and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using a random-effects model. Thirty-eight studies (905 patients treated with anti-CD20 therapy) were included (19 studies of patients with hematologic malignancies). Patients on active (<3 months since last dose) anti-CD20 therapy had poor responses to all types of vaccines. The pooled estimate for SC after 1 pandemic influenza vaccine dose in these patients was 3% (95% CI, 0% to 9%), with an RB of 0.05 (95% CI, 0-0.73) compared with healthy controls and 0.22 (95% CI, 0.09-0.56) compared with disease controls. SC compared with controls seems abrogated for at least 6 months following treatment (3-6 months post anti-CD20 therapy with an RB of 0.50 [95% CI, 0.24-1.06] compared with healthy and of 0.44 [95% CI, 0.23-0.84] compared with disease controls). For all vaccine types, response to vaccination improves incrementally over time, but may not reach the level of healthy controls even 12 months after therapy.

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