PLoS One. 2021 Jun 3;16(6):e0252576. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0252576. eCollection 2021.
Inhaled Corticosteroids (ICS) are commonly prescribed to patients with severe COPD and recurrent exacerbations. It is not known what impact ICS cause in terms of COVID-19 positivity or disease severity in COPD. This study examined 27,810 patients with COPD from the Cleveland Clinic COVID-19 registry between March 8th and September 16th, 2020. Electronic health records were used to determine diagnosis of COPD, ICS use, and clinical outcomes. Multivariate logistic regression was used to adjust for demographics, month of COVID-19 testing, and comorbidities known to be associated with increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease. Amongst the COPD patients who were tested for COVID-19, 44.1% of those taking an ICS-containing inhaler tested positive for COVID-19 versus 47.2% who tested negative for COVID-19 (p = 0.033). Of those who tested positive for COVID-19 (n = 1288), 371 (28.8%) required hospitalization. In-hospital outcomes were not significantly different when comparing ICS versus no ICS in terms of ICU admission (36.8% [74/201] vs 31.2% [53/170], p = 0.30), endotracheal intubation (21.9% [44/201] vs 16.5% [28/170], p = 0.24), or mortality (18.4% [37/201] vs 20.0% [34/170], p = 0.80). Multivariate logistic regression demonstrated no significant differences in hospitalization (adj OR 1.12, CI: 0.90-1.38), ICU admission (adj OR: 1.31, CI: 0.82-2.10), need for mechanical ventilation (adj OR 1.65, CI: 0.69-4.02), or mortality (OR: 0.80, CI: 0.43-1.49). In conclusion, ICS therapy did not increase COVID-19 related healthcare utilization or mortality outcome in patients with COPD followed at the Cleveland Clinic health system. These findings should encourage clinicians to continue ICS therapy for COPD patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.