What We Have Learned About Lupus & COVID-19
It is hard to believe that the United States has been dealing with COVID-19 for about 4 months now. While these have been some trying times, there is a lot we have learned about coronavirus and how it affects lupus patients.
How COVID-19 Affects Lupus
Lupus is an autoimmune disease, meaning the body attacks healthy tissue and causes the immune system to weaken. This weakened immune system makes lupus patients more prone to catching infections, including coronavirus.
Back in April when there were reports of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine potentially being able to cure COVID-19, there was a lot of pressure and stress put on the lupus community. The FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), allowing pharmaceutical companies and hospitals to hold onto those medications for coronavirus patients. This decision, however, put lupus patients at a disadvantage because many were no longer able to get their prescriptions filled. Luckily, on June 15th, the FDA revoked the EUA and lupus patients have been able to acquire their medications normally.
The potential of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine being able to cure COVID-19 brought forward the question if lupus patients who take it are somehow immune or at less of a risk of contracting coronavirus. This is not true. The Lupus Foundation of America came forward with a statement saying "There is no evidence that taking hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) is effective in preventing a person from contracting the coronavirus (COVID-19). People with lupus should follow the guidance of their doctor and the safety guidelines being issues by the CDC."
Steps to Take to Protect Yourself From COVID-19
The CDC recommends that everyone wear a cloth facemask when out in public areas, indoor or outdoor, where it is difficult to stay six feet away from other people. Areas such as grocery stores, pharmacies, malls, etc.
Only go out to public areas if it is absolutely necessary. The best way to avoid getting the virus is staying at home as much as possible. Also be sure you are washing your hands, sanitizing surfaces, and avoid touching your face. It is also recommended to avoid traveling.
If you can, switch your doctor's appointments to be over the phone or videochat. If you have to go into the office, talk to your doctor about steps you can take to minimize your risk. Remember to always wear a mask!
Sometimes, you may have to remind your friends, family, and colleagues about the added risk you have due to lupus. It may be hard for some people to understand, but your health is most important and it is crucial you are taking the necessary steps to prevent COVID-19.
What To Do If You Come in Contact With Someone Who is COVID-19 Positive
The first step is to self-quarantine right away. It is recommended to stay in isolation for at least 2 weeks. If you start experiencing symptoms, call your doctor to report them. Follow their suggestions for the next steps to take.
What To Do If COVID-19 Has Affected You Financially
If you are concerned about financially supporting your lupus treatments due to a financial impact from coronavirus, there are a few steps you can take.
The best thing to do is prepare ahead of time. These practices are not only important for getting through the coronavirus pandemic, but also to make sure you are financially sound in the future.
- Make a financial plan for unexpected hardships
- Know the status of your disability benefits
- Know what is covered under your stimulus package
- If you experience job loss, know your health insurance options
- If you have lost your insurance because it was provided by your job, here is a resource provided by the Lupus Foundation of America for potential coverage options.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) and lupus. Lupus Foundation of America. 2020.
Are People With Lupus Protected Against COVID-19? Lupus Foundation of America. 2020.
What To Know About COVID-19 and Lupus. Medical News Today. 2020.