Simon TG, Hagström H, Sharma R, Söderling J, Roelstraete B, Larsson E, Ludvigsson JF
BMC Gastroenterol 21 (1) 439 [2021-11-23; online 2021-11-23]
Some, but not all, prior studies have suggested that patients with chronic liver disease are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing more severe disease. However, nationwide data are lacking from well-phenotyped cohorts with liver histology and comparisons to matched general population controls. We conducted a nationwide cohort study of all Swedish adults with chronic liver disease (CLD) confirmed by liver biopsy between 1966 and 2017 (n = 42,320), who were alive on February 1, 2020. CLD cases were matched to ≤ 5 population comparators by age, sex, calendar year and county (n = 182,147). Using Cox regression, we estimated multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios (aHRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for COVID-19 hospitalization and severe COVID-19 (intensive care admission or death due to COVID-19). Between February 1 and July 31, 2020, 161 (0.38%) CLD patients and 435 (0.24%) general population controls were hospitalized with COVID-19 (aHR = 1.36, 95% CI = 1.11-1.66), while 65 (0.15%) CLD patients and 191 (0.10%) controls developed severe COVID-19 (aHR = 1.08, 95% CI = 0.79-1.48). Results were similar in patients with CLD due to alcohol use, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, viral hepatitis, autoimmune hepatitis, and other etiologies. Among patients with cirrhosis (n = 2549), the aHRs for COVID-19 hospitalization and for severe COVID-19 were 1.08 (95% CI 0.48-2.40) and 1.23 (95% CI = 0.37-4.04), respectively, compared to controls. Moreover, among all patients diagnosed with COVID-19, the presence of underlying CLD was not associated with increased mortality (aHR = 0.85, 95% CI = 0.61-1.19). In this nationwide cohort, patients with CLD had a higher risk of hospitalization for COVID-19 compared to the general population, but they did not have an increased risk of developing severe COVID-19.