These are the questions about COVID19 that we’re being asked more often. We’ll keep the list updated as often as possible. If you have a question which isn’t covered please contact the NASS Helpline.
Am I at more risk from COVID19 because of my medication?
You could be. People who take medication that suppresses the immune system are more at risk of infection and should practice social distancing. These medications include biologic drugs such as anti TNFs and IL 17A inhibitors, and DMARDs (most notably methotrexate) and steroids. If you take a combination of these drugs your risk increases and so at the moment you are advised to exercise enhanced social distancing if possible. Updated 15 April 2020.
Should I stop taking my medication?
Please continue to take your medication to ensure that you do not have a flare of your axial SpA (AS). However if you develop symptoms of COVID19 / Coronavirus you should stop taking biologic medicines and DMARDS and contact a health professional. If you are taking steroids you should not stop without consulting a health professional as these should be reduced gradually. You do not need to stop taking your sulfasalazine. Updated 23 March 2020.
What if someone in my house has COVID19 symptoms but I don’t?
If someone in your house has symptoms of COVID19, they should be self-isolating. The chances of anybody living with them becoming infected are significant, even if they aren’t showing symptoms. If you are taking a biologic medicine, because of the higher risk of infection, our advice is to delay your next injection, and keep yourself indoors as much as possible. Going back onto your biologic will depend on whether you develop symptoms or remain asymptomatic but with no active symptoms in the household. Updated 26 March 2020.
Should I be self-isolating?
Everyone should be staying in their home as per government guidelines and only go outside for food, health reasons or essential work. There are certain circumstances where you are considered high-risk. Read more here. Updated 26 March 2020.
What if I can’t get my blood tests done when I am on biologics or DMARDS?
Current guidelines by the British Society for Rheumatology state that people on biologics should have their blood tested every six months, and those on DMARDs should have blood tests every three to four months.
At the moment you should be able to get your blood tests done at the hospital or with your GP. However, this may change over time if GP surgeries close and hospital staff are redeployed. There is provision within NHS plans for an increase in community phlebotomy services but the rapidly developing nature of the COVID19 incident mean that plans may change. We will keep this page updated as we know more and this has been raised with the NHS via the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance.
Symptoms to look out for if you are on biologics or DMARDS and haven’t had your bloods taken include sore throat, fever, generally feeling unwell and jaundice; if you experience any of these symptoms then you should contact seek medical advice. Updated 9 April 2020.
Will my biologic medicines still be available?
We have received reassurances from pharmaceutical companies that deliveries will take place as usual. We are also in contact with the National Clinical Homecare Association who have assured us that there is no indication that there will be any disruption. Updated 20 April 2020.
How can I explain to my employer that I need to be working from home?
The government has issued guidance for employers on the measures they should be taking. You can read a summary here. The government has recently strengthened its guidance to employers, advising that those who have been told to shield should be supported to work from home. Updated 9 April 2020.
Will NSAIDs make me more likely to get the virus, or make my symptoms worse?
There have been reports on social media that non-steroidal anti inflammatory medication can cause a person with COVID-19 (Coronavirus) to have worse symptoms. There is no scientific evidence to support this. You can read what the European Medicines Agency have to say here. Updated 20 April 2020