J Clin Med 10 (13) - [2021-06-22; online 2021-06-22]
The Coptic clergy, due to their specific work involving interaction with many people, could be subjected to increased risk of infection from COVID-19. The aim of this study, a sub-study of the COVID-19-CVD international study of the impact of the pandemic on the cardiovascular system, was to assess the prevalence of COVID-19 among Coptic priests and to identify predictors of clinical adverse events. Participants were geographically divided into three groups: Group-I: Europe and USA, Group II: Northern Egypt, and Group III: Southern Egypt. Participants' demographic indices, cardiovascular risk factors, possible source of infection, number of liturgies, infection management, and major adverse events (MAEs), comprising death, or mechanical ventilation, were assessed. Out of the 1570 clergy serving in 25 dioceses, 255 (16.2%) were infected. Their mean age was 49.5 ± 12 years and mean weekly number of liturgies was 3.44 ± 1.0. The overall prevalence rate was 16.2% and did not differ between Egypt as a whole and overseas (p = 0.23). Disease prevalence was higher in Northern Egypt clergy compared with Europe and USA combined (18.4% vs. 12.1%, p = 0.03) and tended to be higher than in Southern Egypt (18.4% vs. 13.6%, p = 0.09). Ten priests (3.92%) died of COVID-19-related complications, and 26 (10.2) suffered a MAE. The clergy from Southern Egypt were more obese, but the remaining risk factors were less prevalent compared with those in Europe and USA (p = 0.01). In multivariate analysis, obesity (OR = 4.180; 2.479 to 12.15; p = 0.01), age (OR = 1.055; 0.024 to 1.141; p = 0.02), and systemic hypertension (OR = 1.931; 1.169 to 2.004; p = 0.007) predicted MAEs. Obesity was the most powerful independent predictor of MAE in Southern Egypt and systemic hypertension in Northern Egypt (p < 0.05 for both). Obesity is very prevalent among Coptic clergy and seems to be the most powerful independent predictor of major COVID-19-related adverse events. Coptic clergy should be encouraged to follow the WHO recommendations for cardiovascular disease and COVID-19 prevention.