The AKU Society has been receiving a lot of questions in regards AKU and COVID -19 (Coronavirus). In these trying times, trusted information is extremely important. That is why we have asked our healthcare partners to explain some of the most common questions.
Whether or not AKU patients would be at increased risk compared to the rest of the population, we simply don’t have the science/ knowledge to give an evidence-based answer.
AKU is a multisystem disease mainly damaging the musculoskeletal system and the aortic valve. There is nothing to suggest that the immune system is impaired in AKU per se.
There is a suggestion of an increase in all infections after nitisinone treatment in AKU, especially early after starting treatment. This was an unexpected finding in the SONIA 2 clinical trial (which is currently being considered for publication and therefore cannot be discussed further here) and most of the infections reported were minor.
Nevertheless, it is necessary to inform people about this potential finding, as we agreed with the regulators when the trial was being set up.
Most AKU patients with aortic valve involvement have normal heart function with no heart failure or compromise of the pulmonary system, and therefore they probably should not be considered as having significant heart disease increasing their risk to COVID-19.
Severe damage and immobility of the spine and the thoracic (rib) cage, as it can potentially impair breathing, could make for slightly increased health risk especially when advanced.
Furthermore, many of the AKU patients are either over 60 (and therefore fall in the higher risk category as per WHO situation report -51 or have other underlying additional chronic conditions that put them at increased risk anyway.
You can continue to take all medications you are currently on for pain and related AKU issues. The medications advised would be as per previous to the outbreak of COVID-19.
If any cold/ cough is a new issue, contact local healthcare for further guidance and support.
Nonetheless, if patients still have COVID-19 related concerns or are not sure what to do, they should approach their local GP, following the national advice. As always, the AKU Society team will be available to deal with any AKU related issues, for specific support and advice.