Objective: Patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and on disease modifying therapies (DMTs) that can be immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory form a special group where risk of continuation of DMT needs to be taken into account with risk of contracting Covid-19. This concept can pose a degree of anxiety for patients as well as neurologists. We aimed to evaluate patient perspectives regarding the use of Natalizumab and anti-CD20 therapies (Rituximab and Ocrelizumab) in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: cross-sectional study conducted via voluntary survey filled in by patients with MS and related disorders receiving their infusional treatment in one MS centre in Australia, exploring their concerns regarding their therapy, their therapy and COVID-19, precautions undertaken in response to the pandemic, and factors impacting their decision-making. Results: 170 patients completed the survey. Of patients on Natalizumab, the majority had either no or mild concern regarding their DMT and COVID-19, and of patients on B-cell depleting therapies, again, the majority had no or mild concern, though a slightly higher proportion had a moderate level of concern. Asked to delineate their concerns, an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 was more commonly conveyed than MS-specific factors or poor outcomes pertaining to COVID-19 if contracted, by patients in both groups. Conversely, being invited to specifically consider the possibility of contracting COVID-19 or experience a relapse of MS, almost half of the cohort rated both of equal of concern. More than half of the cohort were self-isolating more stringently than general government advice and government-related resources followed by information provided by patient's neurologist where the commonest means of information to guide decision making. Conclusions: Whilst a large proportion of patients had some concern regarding the impact of their DMT on COVID-19, whether on their risk of contracting COVID-19 or a theoretical risk for more severe disease, the overall level of concern in most cases was at most mild. Patients on B-cell depleting therapies were more inclined to express a higher level of concern. A similar concern was ascribed to a risk of a relapse or worsening MS symptoms compared to the risk of contracting COVID-19. Such attitudes may underscore a willingness of patients to continue their DMT where benefits outweigh risks during future phases of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Multiple sclerosis