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Clozapine, an antipsychotic with unique efficacy in treatment-resistant psychosis, is associated with increased susceptibility to infection, including pneumonia.
To investigate associations between clozapine treatment and increased risk of COVID-19 infection in patients with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders who are receiving antipsychotic medications in a geographically defined population in London, UK.
Using information from South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLAM) clinical records, via the Clinical Record Interactive Search system, we identified 6309 individuals who had an ICD-10 diagnosis of schizophrenia-spectrum disorders and were taking antipsychotics at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic onset in the UK. People who were on clozapine treatment were compared with those on any other antipsychotic treatment for risk of contracting COVID-19 between 1 March and 18 May 2020. We tested associations between clozapine treatment and COVID-19 infection, adjusting for gender, age, ethnicity, body mass index (BMI), smoking status and SLAM service use.
Of 6309 participants, 102 tested positive for COVID-19. Individuals who were on clozapine had increased risk of COVID-19 infection compared with those who were on other antipsychotic medication (unadjusted hazard ratio HR = 2.62, 95% CI 1.73–3.96), which was attenuated after adjusting for potential confounders, including clinical contact (adjusted HR = 1.76, 95% CI 1.14–2.72).
These findings provide support for the hypothesis that clozapine treatment is associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 infection. Further research will be needed in other samples to confirm this association. Potential clinical implications are discussed.
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