MSCOVID19: Using social media to achieve rapid dissemination of health information

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Background and Objective:: The global COVID-19 pandemic creates an obvious acute health care resourcing and response problem. The different timing of pandemic peak in geographically distinct locations creates a short window of response opportunity. Rapid dissemination of medical information from early affected areas to later ones is therefore crucial to optimise planning. Formulating the best system response for at-risk patient populations is especially complex. People with multiple sclerosis (pwMS) are exposed to long-term immunosuppressive disease modifying treatments (DMTs) and, in theory, could be at increased risk of contracting the virus and developing complications. Social media, such as Twitter, can provide a global platform to rapidly share information and individual experiences. Methods and Results:: This report summarizes the case experience of pwMS with COVID-19 infection in the first month of the pandemic as reported on Twitter using the #MSCOVID19 hashtag. 26 individual cases of COVID-19 in pwMS were reported from Europe and the United States of America. The cases involved a combination of relapsing and progressive MS phenotypes treated with a range of DMT (5 anti CD20 therapy, 4 cladribine, 4 fingolimod, 4 injectables, 3 alemtuzumab, 2 dimethyl fumarate, 2 untreated, 1 teriflunomide, 1 natalizumab). The cases shared present the earliest reported data on outcomes of COVID-19 infection in pwMS. Whilst limited, the cautiously reassuring nature of these early cases assisted in clinical management by allowing neurologists to continuously reassess their approach to DMT management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102338
Number of pages3
JournalMultiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

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