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Severe clinical outcomes of COVID-19 associated with proton pump inhibitors: a nationwide cohort study with propensity score matching


Objective The adverse effects of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) have been documented for pneumonia; however, there is no consensus regarding whether the use of PPIs might be harmful regarding the risk of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. In this regard, we aimed to measure the potential associations of the current use of PPIs with the infection rates of COVID-19 among patients who underwent SARS-CoV-2 testing.

Design Data were derived from a Korean nationwide cohort study with propensity score matching. We included 132 316 patients older than 18 years who tested for SARS-CoV-2 between 1 January and 15 May 2020. Endpoints were SARS-CoV-2 positivity (primary) and severe clinical outcomes of COVID-19 (secondary: admission to intensive care unit, administration of invasive ventilation or death).

Results In the entire cohort, there were 111 911 non-users, 14 163 current PPI users and 6242 past PPI users. After propensity score matching, the SARS-CoV-2 test positivity rate was not associated with the current or past use of PPIs. Among patients with confirmed COVID-19, the current use of PPIs conferred a 79% greater risk of severe clinical outcomes of COVID-19, while the relationship with the past use of PPIs remained insignificant. Current PPI use starting within the previous 30 days was associated with a 90% increased risk of severe clinical outcomes of COVID-19.

Conclusion Patients taking PPIs are at increased risk for severe clinical outcomes of COVID-19 but not susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection. This suggests that physicians need to assess benefit–risk assessments in the management of acid-related diseases amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • epidemiology
  • proton pump inhibition

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