Contrary to the previous information, the Yale research suggests that those with asthma can in fact suffer “less severe infections.
Having asthma can increase protection against severe Covid-19 infection, a Yale study confirmed on Monday, debunking common “high risk” concerns over contracting the virus.
“Our findings suggest that there may be a mechanism intrinsic to having asthma that actually may allow these patients to handle the virus better than a healthy individual,” Dr. Geoffrey Chupp, professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine, said.
The Covid-19 outbreak in 2020 had raised major concerns over the wellbeing of individuals deemed as “high risk”, including those with respiratory diseases, cancer patients, and the elderly.
Contrary to previously shared information, the Yale research suggests that those with asthma can in fact suffer “less severe infections and mortality than those without the lung disease.” The study added that previous health warnings had rather “failed to consider variability in outcomes across patient groups.”
Instead, the study concluded that those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are at higher risk of severe infection, whereas the risks were lessened by asthma.
“Our work demonstrates that we need to precisely understand a patient’s underlying airway disease to properly educate them about the risks of severe Covid,” Chupp said, while still encouraging those with asthma to get vaccinated against Covid.
“COVID is here to stay, and it’s going to continue to cause illness,” he added.
Dr. Chupp, who also serves as the director of the Yale Center for Asthma and Airways Disease, initially discovered the stark differences in patients with COPD and asthma during the height of the Covid outbreak.
During the onset of the pandemic, Dr. Chupp had noticed higher post-infection recovery rates among his Covid patients with asthma, inspiring the hypothesis for his research. The patterns noticed among his patients prompted him to further analyse the possible correlation between having asthma and Covid recovery.
The study analysed 8,000 patients who were hospitalised between March 2020 and April 2021 and categorising them as: asthma, COP, asthma plus COPD, and no airway disease.
The Yale doctor later used the patients’ sequential organ failure assessment (SOFA) scores to track the severity of their infections throughout the duration of their stay at the hospital. The medics also considered other factors, including age, sex, race and ethnicity.
“The study found increased severity of Covid-19 in patients with COPD compared to the control group, but lessened severity in patients with asthma. Patients with both asthma and COPD experienced outcomes similar to those without a chronic airway disease,” the study found.
The other step of the study included analysis of counts of eosinophils, or disease-fighting white blood cells, that are linked to chronic lung disease.
“Their findings revealed that higher eosinophil counts and inflammation were significantly correlated with better health outcomes[…]the researchers conducted a further analysis adjusting for eosinophil count and found that the improved outcomes in patients with asthma persisted,” Yale added.