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How does asthma affect COVID-19 severity? New research weighs in

Credit: AJC

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Credit: AJC

As experts look to learn more about the link between asthma and COVID-19, a new study from researchers at Rutgers University suggests that the chronic respiratory condition may not increase the severity of the virus.

The study, which was published this week in the The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found that "asthma does not appear to increase the risk for a person contracting COVID-19 or influence its severity."

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“People with asthma — even those with diminished lung function who are being treated to manage asthmatic inflammation — seem to be no worse affected by SARS-CoV-2 than a non-asthmatic person,” Dr. Reynold A. Panettieri Jr., the study’s co-author, said in a statement.

The researchers found that while certain underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity are risk factors for the progression of the coronavirus, asthma does not seem to do the same.

“Asthma tends to be associated with far fewer other conditions than chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or cardiovascular disease. If SARS-CoV-2 is a disease that causes dysfunction in the cells that line blood vessels throughout the body, then diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other diseases associated with this condition may make people more susceptible to the virus than those who are asthmatic,” Panettieri said in the statement.

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The researchers also found that people with asthma have been more likely to be more vigilant in preventative measures amid the pandemic, like maintaining adequate social distancing.

“Social distancing could improve asthma control since people who are self-quarantined are also not as exposed to seasonal triggers that include allergens or respiratory viruses. There is also evidence that people are being more attentive to taking their asthma medication during the pandemic, which can contribute to overall health,” according to the study.