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Recent studies have shown that people who are immunocompromised may inadvertently play a role in spurring the mutations of the virus that create new variants. This is because some immunocompromised individuals remain at risk of getting COVID-19 despite vaccination, experience more severe disease, are susceptible to being chronically infected and remain contagious for longer if they become infected and considering that immunocompromised individuals represent approximately 2% of the overall population, this aspect should be carefully considered. So far, some autoimmune rheumatic disease (ARD) patients with COVID-19 have been treated with antiviral therapies or anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody products. However, there is no homogeneous approach to these treatment strategies. This issue was addressed within the European Reference Network (ERN) on Rare and Complex Connective Tissue and Musculoskeletal Diseases (ReCONNET) in a discussion among experts and patient's representatives in the context of the rare and complex connective tissue diseases (rCTDs) covered by the Network. ERN ReCONNET is one of the 24 ERNs launched by the European Commission in 2017 with the aim of tackling low prevalence and rare diseases that require highly specialised treatment and promoting concentration of knowledge and resources through virtual networks involving healthcare providers (HCPs) across the European Union (EU). Considering the urgent need to provide guidance not only to the rCTDs community, but also to the whole ARDs community, a multidisciplinary Task Force, including expert clinicians and European Patient Advocacy Group (ePAG) Advocates, was created in the framework of ERN ReCONNET with the aim of developing overarching principles (OP) and points-to-consider (PtC) on a homogenous approach to treat immunocompromised patients with ARDs (with a particular focus on CTDs) affected by COVID-19 using antiviral therapies and anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody products. The present work reports the final OP and PtC agreed by the Task Force.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Exp Rheumatol

Publication Date





543 - 553


Humans, COVID-19, Autoimmune Diseases, Rheumatic Diseases, Antiviral Agents, Respiratory Distress Syndrome