World J Hepatol. 2021 May 27;13(5):522-532. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v13.i5.522.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused unprecedented pressure on public health and healthcare. The pandemic surge and resultant lockdown have affected the standard-of-care of many medical conditions and diseases. The initial uncertainty and fear of cross transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) have changed the routine management of patients with pre-existing liver diseases, hepatocellular carcinoma, and patients either listed for or received a liver transplant. COVID-19 is best described as a multisystem disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, and it can cause acute liver injury or decompensation of the pre-existing liver disease. There has been considerable research on the pathophysiology, infection transmission, and treatment of COVID-19 in the last few months. The pathogenesis of liver involvement in COVID-19 includes viral cytotoxicity, the secondary effect of immune dysregulation, hypoxia resulting from respiratory failure, ischemic damage caused by vascular endotheliitis, congestion because of right heart failure, or drug-induced liver injury. Patients with chronic liver diseases, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma are at high risk for severe COVID-19 and mortality. The phase III trials of recently approved vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 did not include enough patients with pre-existing liver diseases and excluded immunocompromised patients or those on immunomodulators. This article reviews the currently published research on the effect of COVID-19 on the liver and the management of patients with pre-existing liver disease, including SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.