COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it a multitude of doubts and uncertainty. Thus, it has raised certain questions within the celiac community. Today we want to provide answers to these questions.
Are people with celiac disease considered a risk group?
In the statement of the Spanish Society for Coeliac Disease (SEEC) we find the answer. People with celiac disease are not considered a risk group for COVID-19 infection.
Are people with celiac disease more vulnerable to suffering COVID-19?
So far, there is no evidence that celiac disease increases the risk of developing COVID-19. Nor has it been shown to have a more severe form of COVID-19 than the general population.
In the SEEC statement, mention is made of a subgroup of celiacs. These are those who may be more susceptible to developing certain infections. These include infections caused by certain bacteria (Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae and Neisseria meningitidis) and some viruses, such as influenza and herpes zoster. This is not the case for SARS-CoV-2 viruses.
What conditions increase susceptibility to infection?
One group is more susceptible to severe COVID-19. These are older adults with certain pre-existing medical conditions. Therefore, it is reasonable to think that celiacs over 65 years with certain conditions (diabetes, heart disease or other chronic diseases), would be part of this risk group. Therefore, this group should strictly follow prevention and social distancing measures.
Does the coeliac population have special recommendations regarding COVID-19?
The SEES recommends that coeliac patients follow same recommendations and advice issued by official institutions. In this way, the spread of the virus is avoided.
Is there any study on this subject?
Also, the massive spread of the virus generated interest in a study on celiac disease and COVID-19. A Canadian research group launched a survey. The aim was to find out the impact of the infection on people with coeliac disease around the world.
This study involved the collaboration of researchers and patient associations from all over the world. Demographic information, symptoms and diseases associated with Celiac Disease, gluten-free diet monitoring and COVID-19 testing were collected. All these data were collected from more than 18,000 subjects with and without a diagnosis of Celiac Disease.
The results of the study were clear. They showed that people with celiac disease do not have a higher risk of developing COVID-19 than people without the condition. It should be noted that this study is based on information provided by anonymous surveys. Consequently, it could not be verified.
Currently, there is an ongoing international study, called SECURE-Celiac. It is collecting clinical information from coeliacs who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The aim of this study is to find out the true impact of COVID-19 in celiac patients and its evolution over time.
Read the statement at the following link: http://www.seec.es/doc/Comunicado%20de%20la%20SEEC%20(Covid-19).pdf
Questions and answers about coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Consulted in: https://www.who.int/es/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/q-a-coronaviruses
Zhen J et al. The Risk of Contracting COVID-19 Is Not Increased in Patients With Celiac Disease. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020 Oct 12:S1542-3565(20)31398-7.