Key Takeaways from the 8th ACTRIMS-ECTRIMS 2020 Meeting


Dr Robert Naismith shares key takeaways from the 8th ACTRIMS-ECTRIMS 2020 meeting, including the impact of anti-CD20 therapy compared with other agents on the risk of severe disease from COVID-19.

Robert Naismith, MD: This meeting was a phenomenal success. Over 6200 people were registered and attended. For the times that we’re in, that’s tremendous. It represents a real need for MS [multiple sclerosis] information and discussion. It was perfect timing to have this meeting. There will be another meeting of ACTRIMS [Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis] in February. That’s going to be held virtually, so hopefully we’ll continue to be able to provide this quality information and have another great with everybody’s help.

Of course, the coronavirus pandemic is 1 of the big things on peoples’ minds in regard to MS care. A number of analyses were presented at ACTRIMS-ECTRIMS [European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis in September]. The biggest risk factors for severe disease from COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] seem to be age and disability. The odds ratio of a negative outcome, whether it’s an ICU [intensive care unit] admission or intubation or death, seems to be within those 2 categories—those who are older and those who are more disabled.

In looking at all the different treatment options, there was a very slight increased risk associated with the anti-CD20s compared with other agents. This risk wasn’t as high, relatively speaking, in terms of the age and the disability parts, but it’s interesting that there did seem to be a persistent risk across several different studies with the anti-CD20s.

In looking at anti-CD20s and high disability and older age, there does not seem to be a synergistic effect. I think we need to balance treating MS appropriately and make sure the disease doesn’t cause additional injury to myelin and axons. Certainly, patients taking medicines like this need to be cautious about isolation, masks, washing hands, and stuff like that, which I think they’re doing. There are more data to come. There are a lot of people looking at this issue because it’s so important.

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