Ann Rheum Dis - (-) - [2021-11-22; online 2021-11-22]
To estimate absolute and relative risks for seasonal influenza outcomes in patients with inflammatory joint diseases (IJDs) and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). To contextualise recent findings on corresponding COVID-19 risks. Using Swedish nationwide registers for this cohort study, we followed 116 989 patients with IJD and matched population comparators across four influenza seasons (2015-2019). We quantified absolute risks of hospitalisation and death due to influenza, and compared IJD to comparators via Cox regression. We identified 71 556 patients with IJD on active treatment with conventional synthetic DMARDs and biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARDs)/targeted synthetic disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (tsDMARDs) at the start of each influenza season, estimated risks for the same outcomes and compared these risks across DMARDs via Cox regression. Per season, average risks for hospitalisation listing influenza were 0.25% in IJD and 0.1% in the general population, corresponding to a crude HR of 2.38 (95% CI 2.21 to 2.56) that decreased to 1.44 (95% CI 1.33 to 1.56) following adjustments for comorbidities. For death listing influenza, the corresponding numbers were 0.015% and 0.006% (HR=2.63, 95% CI 1.93 to 3.58, and HR=1.46, 95% CI 1.07 to 2.01). Absolute risks for influenza outcomes were half (hospitalisation) and one-tenth (death) of those for COVID-19, but relative estimates comparing IJD to the general population were similar. In absolute terms, COVID-19 in IJD outnumbers that of average seasonal influenza, but IJD entails a 50%-100% increase in risk for hospitalisation and death for both types of infections, which is largely dependent on associated comorbidities. Overall, bDMARDs/tsDMARDs do not seem to confer additional risk for hospitalisation or death related to seasonal influenza.