Asaff Harel, MD: Risk Factors for Severe COVID-19 Infection in Multiple Sclerosis


The neurologist at Lenox Hill Hospital detailed the findings of his observational study that looked at patterns of COVID-19 infections in patients with multiple sclerosis.

“Our model showed that the biggest predictor of hospitalization was disability status, which was followed by age and obesity, which are known as general risk factors.”

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many neurologists questioned whether neurological disorders or the disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) that treat them might have an impact on the risk of acquiring the virus or worsening its course. Asaff Harel, MD, was among the many from the New York COVID-19 Neuro-Immunology Consortium that aimed to characterize the patterns of COVID-19 infections in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) as well as identify risk factors for severe infection.

They measured severity of the infection by a 4-point ordinal scale, ranging from home care, hospitalization, intensive care unit (ICU), and death. Harel, a neurologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, noted that associations between Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score ≥6 (odds ratio [OR], 3.9; 95% CI, 1.7–8.8), obesity (OR, 2.4; 95% CI, 1.1–4.9) and age (OR per 10 year increase, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.1–2.2)with hospitalization for COVID-19.

Harel sat down with NeurologyLive to discuss his findings, and offer his perspective on why he thinks that disease severity plays the most important role among the observations made.

Klineova S, Harel A, Straus Farber R, et al. COVID-19 infection in patients with multiple sclerosis: an observational study by the New York COVID-19 Neuro-Immunology Consortium (NYCNIC). Presented at MS Virtual 2020 Joint ECTRIMS-ACTRIMS meeting; September 11–13, 2020. Abstract LB1205
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