Epidemiological pattern, incidence and outcomes of COVID-19 in liver transplant patients.

The incidence and outcomes of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in immunocompromised patients are a matter of debate.Prospective nationwide study including a consecutive cohort of liver transplant patients with Covid-19 recruited during the Spanish outbreak from February 28th to April 7th, 2020. The primary outcome was severe Covid-19, defined as the need for mechanical ventilation, intensive care, and/or death. Age- and gender-standardized incidence and mortality ratios (SIR and SMR) were calculated using data from the Ministry of Health and the Spanish liver transplant registry. Independent predictors of severe Covid-19 among hospitalized patients were analyzed using multivariate Cox regression.A total of 111 liver transplant patients were diagnosed with Covid-19 (SIR=191.2 [95%CI 190.3-192.2]). The epidemiological curve and geographic distribution overlapped widely between liver transplant and general populations. After a median follow-up of 23 days, 96 patients (86.5%) were admitted to hospital and 22 patients (19.8%) required respiratory support. Twelve patients were admitted to the ICU (10.8%). The mortality rate was 18%, being lower compared to the matched general population (SMR=95.5 [95%CI 94.2-96.8]). Thirty-five patients (31.5%) met criteria of severe Covid-19. Baseline immunosuppression containing mycophenolate was an independent predictor of severe Covid-19 (RR=3.94; 95%CI 1.59-9.74; p=0.003), particularly at doses higher than 1,000 mg/day (p=0.003). This deleterious effect was not observed with calcineurin inhibitors or everolimus and complete immunosuppression withdrawal showed no benefit.Being chronically immunosuppressed, liver transplant patients have an increased risk of acquiring Covid-19 but their mortality rates are lower than matched general population. Upon hospital admission, mycophenolate dose reduction or withdrawal could help in preventing severe Covid-19. However, complete immunosuppression withdrawal should be discouraged.

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