The COVID-19 pandemic has had many impact which are far reaching and unpredictable. From the outset a respiratory viral infection with an identified mortality level is scary for everyone, it is particularly frightening for those with underlying lung disease. Patients who normally suffer from asthma were initially thought to be at higher risk as compared to the general population.
It was feared those with asthma will have a worse outcome and even may be higher at risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2. It is important to stress that there is no evidence to suggest someone with asthma is more likely to contract SARS-CoV-2. Patients with mild asthma appear to have no additional risk of worse prognosis and despite guidance from WHO
That patients with moderate-severe asthma could be at greater risk for more severe disease, there are no conclusive clinical data to support this. It is important to remember we are dealing with a fast-moving pandemic, new studies and data could alter our current understanding.
Early on in the pandemic, there were numerous anecdotal and small series of clinical studies suggesting steroid should be avoided in patients with COVID-19 symptoms. Since then, there has been significant evidence suggesting steroids are beneficial in reducing the severity and even mortality associated with COVID-19.
In such scenarios of conflicting data, it is vitally important that asthma sufferers who normally take steroid inhalers carry on as normal and DO NOT stop. The last thing you need is to exacerbate your asthma due to non-compliance and get admitted to hospital where you may come in contact with COVID-19 sufferers.
COVID-19 is different to the normal seasonal coronavirus in many ways and it appears that its effect on asthma suffers is also different. COVID-19 behaves like its predecessor viruses SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV and does not seem to cause asthma exacerbations unlike the seasonal coronavirus!
Nonetheless, it is always important for asthma patients to keep their asthma under the best possible control. That way their lungs will be best prepared should any infection or allergen lead to an exacerbation of their asthma.
The important take home message for people with asthma during this pandemic is to keep doing what you have been doing. Carry on taking your medication and inform your doctor of any symptoms that you may develop.