An increased risk of death from covid. This is what people with trisomy 21 are exposed to, according to a new international study published on February 22 in the scientific journal The Lancet EClinical Medicine. These results confirm the need to consider these patients as people vulnerable to covid.

Pulmonary complications and death

The researchers behind the study relayed to the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe and India a survey intended for doctors who treated 1,046 patients with Down’s syndrome and infected with covid between April and October 2020 And the specialists compared their health data to that of other covid patients.

Result: Down’s syndrome patients reported more severe symptoms of covid than other patients. They also had high rates of pulmonary complications, associated with higher mortality.

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An increased risk from the age of 40

Specifically, adults with trisomy 21 were about three times more likely to die from covid-19 than the general population. And this risk was particularly present from the age of 40.

In fact, according to this study, a 40-year-old person with Down’s syndrome has the same risk of dying from covid as a 70-year-old without Down’s syndrome.

Immune dysfunction

How to explain this increased risk? Trisomy 21 is a genetic disease associated with immune dysfunction, which results in particular by “changes in the number of immune cells“and by”inappropriate antibody responses“detail the researchers in their publication.

This immune fragility linked to trisomy 21 is already well known with other viral diseases, such as influenza or the respiratory syncytial virus, the authors of the study also recall.

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Another explanation to take into account: Down’s syndrome is often associated with other health problems that are also risk factors for serious forms of covid, such as obesity, diabetes or congenital heart defects.

Barrier gestures, treatments …

For the researchers signing this study, it is therefore essential to consider patients with Down’s syndrome as people at high risk.

How? ‘Or’ What ? First, by strengthening preventive barrier gestures, in particular among those over 40 who are at greater risk of serious forms, ie “20 years earlier than for the general population“.

Then by questioning the effectiveness of the treatments used on the general population in these patients. For that, more studies are needed.

… And priority vaccination

People with trisomy 21 must have priority access to vaccines, insist the researchers.

This is already the case in the United States, the United Kingdom and Spain. And in France ? Since January 18, 2021, people with trisomy 21 have been on the list of patients to be vaccinated as a priority against covid-19, alongside other high-risk patients such as people with cancer, severe chronic kidney disease or even transplant patients.