Top 5 Most-Read Clinical COVID-19 Articles of 2021

Risk factors for more severe COVID-19 and potentially protective factors appear on this year’s list of most-read clinical COVID-19 articles.

As the pandemic continues to take a toll around the world, a look back at the most popular clinical COVID-19 news published in 2021 highlights some recurring themes, including complications associated with the disease and potential protections.

5. Immunosuppressive Psoriatic Drugs and COVID-19

In June, authors writing in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology concluded immunosuppressed patients with psoriasis are not at an increased risk of developing serious complications related to COVID-19. The opinion piece also posits that these medications may help mitigate potential issues, as immunosuppressive drugs manage levels of patients’ cytokines and have the potential to control “cytokine storms.”

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4. Obstructive Sleep Apnea Associated With Higher Risks of COVID-19 Complications

Study findings published in BMJ Open Respiratory Research published in January showed obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) to be an independent risk factor for severe COVID-19 resulting in hospitalization. OSA is also linked with other severe COVID-19 risk factors, including body mass index, diabetes, older age, and male gender. Patients included in the study who were transferred to critical care units also exhibited higher levels of C-reactive protein and procalcitonin than those who were not.

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3. COVID-19–Triggered Psoriatic Arthritis

Doctors in Italy reported the first known case of COVID-19–triggered psoriatic arthritis in January 2021. The patient in question was genetically predisposed to the disease, while a small number of arthritis cases were simultaneously reportedly tied to COVID-19. The patient who developed psoriatic arthritis had a family history of psoriasis, although no family members exhibited joint-related issues.

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2. Flu Vaccine May Have Protective Effects Against COVID-19

Reported in February, data showed those immunized against influenza were less 24% likely to test positive for COVID-19. These individuals were also less likely to have serious COVID-19–related complications. The study, published in American Journal of Infection Control, was the first to explore any association between standard influenza vaccines and COVID-19. Associations remained significant after adjusting for baseline covariates.

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1. COVID-19 Symptoms Can Persist After 6 Months

More than 1 in 4 patients hospitalized in Wuhan, China, with COVID-19 reported fatigue, muscle weakness, and sleep difficulties 6 months later. The research, published in January 2021, also showed more than 75% of patients reported at least 1 persistent symptom of COVID-19. All individuals were hospitalized between January 2020 and May 2020 and had a median age of 57. Additional symptoms reported after 6 months included depression and anxiety.

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