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  • Scott Adams

    No Higher Covid-19 Risk for Celiac Disease Patients

    Scott Adams
    3 3
    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      New research shows that celiac disease patients have no higher risk of contracting COVID-19 than general population.

    Image: CC BY 2.0--Olgierd (3rd account)
    Caption: Image: CC BY 2.0--Olgierd (3rd account)

    Celiac.com 11/23/2020 - Since March 2020, when the World Health Organization declared coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) a global pandemic, researchers and laypeople have been wondering if people with certain health conditions, such as celiac disease, might face a higher risk for contracting Covid-19. 

    Celiac disease is a chronic immune-mediated gastrointestinal condition triggered by gluten, which numerous studies have shown to be associated with an elevated risk of respiratory infection. 

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    A team of researchers recently set out to determine whether celiac disease patients have a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. The research team included Jamie Zhen, Juan Pablo Stefanolo, Maria de la Paz Temprano, Sebastian Tedesco, Caroline Seiler, Alberto Fernandez Caminero, Enrique de-Madaria, Miguel Montoro Huguet, Santiago Vivas, Sonia Isabel Niveloni, Premysl Bercik, Edgardo Smecuol, Luis Uscanga, Elena Trucco, Virginia Lopez, Carolina Olano, Pasquale Mansueto, Antonio Carroccio, Peter H. R. Green, Andrew Day, Jason Tye-Din, Julio Cesar Bai, Carolina Ciacci, Elena Verdu, Benjamin Lebwohl, and Maria Ines Pinto-Sanchez.

    At this writing, the world has seen over 34 million cases of COVID-19, and more than 1 million deaths worldwide. The United States has seen over 11 million cases of Covid-19, and 250,000 deaths, with rising numbers and no end in sight. 

    The research team carried out a cross-sectional study to determine whether patients with self-reported celiac disease have an increased risk of contracting COVID-19. 

    Between March and June 2020, the team used local celiac disease associations, electronic newsletters, and social media to recruit patients of all ages with a self-reported celiac disease, and non-celiacs, from different countries including Argentina, Australia, Canada, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, Uruguay, and the United States.  For the study, the volunteers answered forty-one questions in a web-based survey that was available in English, Spanish and Italian using the approach proposed by Mallinckrodt and Wang. 

    The researchers used RedCap to gather data on demographics, gluten-free diet (GFD), symptomatology, and COVID-19 testing. They used SPSS version 25 (IBM, Armonk, NY) for statistical analyses, and then compared continuous and categorical variables using the Mann-Whitney U test and chi-square test. They also performed logistic regression to gauge the influence of various factors on the likelihood of reporting a positive COVID-19 test. 

    Independent variables included celiac disease diagnosis, age, gender, comorbidities, gluten-free diet adherence, extra precautions, and previous COVID-19 exposure. The unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios showed 95% confidence intervals. 

    People with celiac disease tend to have more comorbidities including respiratory, cardiac, and diabetes,  compared with control subjects. Patients with celiac disease were significantly less likely to have been tested for, and to have been exposed to, COVID-19, compared with control subjects. Just under 9% of of 940 participants tested for positive for COVID-19. 

    Overall, celiac patients do not face any higher risk of contracting Covid-19 than control subjects. This analysis should provide some assurance to people with celiac disease and to clinicians that patients with celiac disease have about the same likelihood of contracting Covid-19 as the general population. However, this study did not look at whether people who have celiac disease have worse outcomes than those who do have it, and unfortunately there is some evidence that indicates that this may be the case.

    With Covid-19 cases higher than ever and rising, we encourage everyone to take precautions and be safe.

    Read more in the Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology


    The researchers are variously affiliated with the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute, McMaster University Medical Center, Hamilton Health Sciences, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; the Hospital Dr C B Udaondo, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Alicante University General Hospital, Alicante, Spain; ||Instituto Aragonés de Ciencias de la Salud, Zaragoza, Spain; Hospital Universitario San Jorge, Huesca, Spain; University Hospital of León, Leon, Spain; Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán, Mexico City, Mexico; Universidad de la Republica, Montevideo, Uruguay; University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy; Columbia University, New York, New York; Department of Paediatrics, University of Otago Christchurch, Christchurch, New Zealand; Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia; and the Università degli Studi di Salerno, Salerno, Italy.

    Edited by Scott Adams

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    Infected FEB 2020 covid19 severe. Then in OCT 2020 mild infection. Its the not smelling that is so real.  Could be other than health issues than glute/celiac. Like border line diabetes. 

    Double down on B12, Iodine supplements (thyroid issues), Vitamin A. Once recovered do try Berberine supplement around 750mg to 1000mg a day. Get that gut flora healthy in supporting digestive of nutrients into the "bloodsteam". 

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    I was bothered by the focus and title of this study because whether I am at risk of Covid seems to be more about how cautious I am about exposing myself.  (and I'd be willing to bet anyone who has to protect themselves against gluten cross contamination also will know how to protect against Covid germs. 

    My real concern is exactly what this study did not cover, how a person with celiac will react to having Covid.  Per article, "this study did not look at whether people who have celiac disease have worse outcomes than those who do have it, and unfortunately there is some evidence that indicates that this may be the case".   


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  • About Me

    Scott Adams was diagnosed with celiac disease in 1994, and, due to the nearly total lack of information available at that time, was forced to become an expert on the disease in order to recover. In 1995 he launched the site that later became Celiac.com to help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives.  He is co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of the (formerly paper) newsletter Journal of Gluten Sensitivity. In 1998 he founded The Gluten-Free Mall which he sold in 2014. Celiac.com does not sell any products, and is 100% advertiser supported.

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