Database will collect data on COVID-19 in patients with MS


The Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) have created a database to collect information on COVID-19 infections and outcomes in North American patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and related diseases. The COViMS (COVID-19 Infections in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Diseases) database is gathering information from patients throughout the United States and will soon gain access to Canadian data. Data from patients with CNS demyelinating diseases such as neuromyelitis optica and myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibody diseases also will be included in COViMS. Amber Salter, PhD, MPH, the director of the North American Research Committee on MS (NARCOMS) is supervising the data collection and analyses.

“COViMS will provide valuable insight on how COVID-19 affects people with MS, including if certain disease-modifying treatments incur special risks,” said June Halper, CEO of CMSC, in a press release.

The project began when CMSC and NMSS established independent registries of epidemiologic data related to MS and COVID-19. The two groups soon began communicating and included other researchers, who also were considering establishing registries, in their discussions. In addition, representatives of the Cleveland Clinic verbally agreed to share data that they have been collecting with the COViMS registry. “The fast-moving, almost parallel, efforts led to this collaboration,” said Gary Cutter, PhD, professor of biostatistics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “This in itself is noteworthy because all of this took place within an incredibly short time from inception to the initiation of data collection.”

The effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection on the health of patients with MS is little understood. In North America, no reporting system had been organized to gather information on these patients and track outcomes. Such a system could influence the treatment of people with MS who become infected with the novel coronavirus or other similar future viruses. The COViMS registry is intended to define the impact of COVID-19 on patients with MS and ascertain how factors such as age, comorbidities, and MS treatments affect outcomes of COVID-19. “The estimated median age of MS patients in the U.S. is about 52 years, thus putting many at increased risk just due to age,” said Dr. Cutter.

“People with MS and their health care providers need evidence-based guidance to provide optimal MS care during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the COViMS database will help answer the many pressing questions,” said Bruce Bebo, executive vice president of research for the NMSS, in a press release.

The two organizations encourage neurologists and other health care providers who treat patients with MS and documented COVID-19 infection to complete a Case Report Form on the COViMS website, which includes answers to frequently asked questions, a sample CRF, and other resources. The website will provide real-time data once registry participation is underway.

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