Treatment with biologics increases the risk of Covid-19 infection in psoriatic patients but appears to protect them from ICU hospitalisation and death, according to the results from an Italian study revealed at the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV) Congress, EADV Virtual.

The study compared 1,193 adult psoriatic patients receiving biologics and small molecules under the care of the San Donato Hospital in Milan, Italy, compared with the population of the Lombardy Region, Italy, from 21 February 2020 (first case of coronavirus in Italy) to 9 April 2020.

Compared with the general population of Lombardy, patients receiving biologics were at higher risk of testing positive for Covid-19 (unadjusted OR 3.43 [95%CI 2.25-5.73], p<0.0001), being self-quarantined at home (OR 9.05 [95%CI 5.61-14.61], p<0.0001) and being hospitalised (unadjusted OR 3.59 [95%CI 1.49-8.63], p=0.0044). However, their risk of being admitted to ICU (unadjusted OR 3.41 [95%CI 0.21-54.55], p=0.3861) and of dying (unadjusted OR 0.41 [95%CI 0.03-6.59], p=0.5306) were not statistically significant.

Dr Giovanni Damiani, a dermatologist at University of Milan, Clinical Dermatology, IRCCS Instituto Ortopedico Galeazzi, Italy, said: “Despite the higher risk for Covid-19 displayed by obese, active smokers and COPD patients, there were almost no data about the risk for psoriasis patients treated with biologics.

“Although biologics, since they suppress the immune system, increased patients’ risk of being infected with Covid-19 compared with the general population, we were pleasantly surprised to see that they did not increase their risk of severe disease and death.”