Statement on COVID-19 for patients with vasculitis from UK and Ireland Vasculitis Society (UKIVAS), March 26 2020

The UK Government has now advised that we should all follow enhanced ‘social-distancing’ measures by staying at home and avoiding day-to-day contacts with other people.

Some vasculitis patients who are taking immunosuppressive medications are considered to be at ‘high’ risk (or extremely vulnerable), were they to catch the virus. Whilst all vasculitis patients should follow social distancing there will be a need for most taking immunosuppressant drugs to follow stricter social distancing guidelines and stay at home and not go out for shopping and not go to work. Local teams are working to identify and contact these patients so that they and their General Practitioner are aware. However, you do not need to wait to be contacted – if you think you are in one of the high-risk groups then you should stay at home.

‘High’ risk is determined by the immunosuppressant drugs that you have taken in the last year and whether you have any of the other risk factors the government has previously published, including being over 70 years old; having another health problem such as diabetes; kidney, heart or lung disease; or high blood pressure; or a flare in your vasculitis in the last 6 months.

It may still be necessary to attend for hospital visits or vasculitis treatment, and you should be guided by your local vasculitis team/consultant in these cases.

Unless advised otherwise by your local vasculitis team, It is important you continue all your immunosuppressant medications because the health risk associated with a flare of your disease is likely to be greater than the risks associated with COVID-19.

Our understanding of the situation continues to evolve and we strongly encourage all patients to keep in touch with their vasculitis care team and follow the most current Government and NHS advice:
There is intense research underway concerning how best to protect patients and as soon as new knowledge becomes available we will update this guidance.