Asthmatics at no greater risk of COVID-19 than others, study reports

Primary health care nurse Mari Paz takes an asthma inhaler dose in between performing nasal swab Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests at the Sant Andreu de la Barca Primary Health Care Centre (CAP) on June 02, 2020 in Sant Andreu de la Barca, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – People with lung conditions were warned early on in the pandemic they were more susceptible to the coronavirus than those without one. Asthmatics were among this group.

But according to a new study, those with asthma are at no greater risk of infection than anyone else.

After pooling data from 587,000 people compiled from 57 published papers, researchers at Australia’s Global Institute for Health found asthmatics actually have a 14% lower risk of catching the virus. They were also less likely to be hospitalized after infection. 

The study was published in the Journal of Asthma

“Chemical receptors in the lungs that the virus binds to are less active in people with asthma…who use corticosteroids as treatment,” said co-author, Dr. Christine Jenkins, in a news release. “This can reduce the virus’ chemical receptor activity in the lungs.”

Jenkins also attributes the results to them taking precautions more seriously — perhaps more so than others.  

“Initial uncertainty about the impact of asthma on COVID-19 may have caused more anxiety among patients and caregivers,” she said. “This may have led them to be more vigilant about preventing infection.”

News 8’s medical reporter, Dr. Mary Elizabeth Gillis, D.Ed., is a classically trained medical physiologist and biobehavioral research scientist. She has been a health, medical and science reporter for over 6 years. Her work has been featured in national media outlets. You can follow her on Facebook @DrMaryGillis and Instagram @reportergillis.