Inflammatory bowel disease amid the COVID-19 pandemic: impact, management strategies, and lessons learned

Authors Mahesh Gajendran, Abhilash Perisetti, Muhammad Aziz, Saikiran Raghavapuram, Pardeep Bansal, Benjamin Tharian, Hemant Goyal.


The current outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 has affected nearly 188 countries. Patients with severe COVID-19 are more commonly elderly and suffer from comorbidities such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, coronary artery disease, chronic pulmonary disease, obesity, and cancer. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) affects as many as 6.8 million people globally, and a significant proportion of them are treated with immunosuppressants. Hence, there is an ongoing concern over the impact of COVID-19 on IBD patients and their susceptibility to it. So far, there are about 1439 IBD patients in the Surveillance Epidemiology of Coronavirus under Research Exclusion (SECURE-IBD) registry reported to be infected with SARS-CoV-2. There are many unique challenges and dilemmas that need to be taken into account when managing an IBD patient with COVID-19. The management of each patient should be individualized. The IBD societies and experts have strongly recommended that patients should not discontinue their IBD medications. If the patients have symptoms of COVID-19 or IBD flare-up, they are recommended to call their IBD physician first to discuss their medication. In addition, IBD patients are urged to practice social distancing strictly to minimize the chances of infection. As COVID-19 is rapidly evolving, our experience and understanding of its impact on the IBD population may potentially change in the near future.

Keywords COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis

Ann Gastroenterol 2020; 33 (6): 591-602

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