Global Study Reports Updated COVID-19 Outcomes in People With Cystic Fibrosis

The Cystic Fibrosis Registry Global Harmonization Group published in the Journal of Cystic Fibrosis updated data on the impact of COVID-19 on people with CF. The manuscript reports on 181 people with cystic fibrosis from 19 countries diagnosed with COVID-19.

Nov. 9, 2020 | 4 min read

BETHESDA, Md. -- Today, the Cystic Fibrosis Registry Global Harmonization Group, including the CF Foundation, published in the Journal of Cystic Fibrosis updated data on the impact of COVID-19 on people with cystic fibrosis. The data are part of an international consortium to better understand the CF experience and outcomes with the novel coronavirus. The manuscript reports on 181 people with cystic fibrosis from 19 countries diagnosed with COVID-19.

Consistent with data published in April 2020 which included 40 cases, today's publication suggests that outcomes for most people with cystic fibrosis are less severe than originally anticipated at the start of the global pandemic. However, in some cases COVID-19 can cause serious illness in people with CF. In particular, the analysis showed that CF patients with advanced lung disease (who had a best FEV1% predicted the year prior to infection of less than 40%) and those who are post-lung transplantation are at risk of severe outcomes, including hospitalization and death.

"These updated data reaffirm initial findings on the impact of COVID-19 in people living with CF, though more data are needed. While COVID-19 infection in people with CF is associated with a range of outcomes based on the individual, these latest findings provide preliminary insights into who may be most vulnerable to severe illness from COVID-19,” said Bruce Marshall, MD, chief medical officer of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and an author of the paper. "It is important for the CF community to continue to take precautions to reduce risk, including mask wearing, physical distancing, and frequent handwashing."

Precautions for people with CF remain imperative

Of the 181 cases collected, including patients aged 1-74 years, before June 13, 2020, 11 people with CF were admitted to intensive care and six deaths were reported as being related t0 COVID-19. There was one additional death in the cohort that was related to advanced CF disease and not COVID-19.

While there is no evidence to suggest that people with underlying health conditions are at higher risk of becoming infected, according to the CDC, there is evidence to show that they might be at greater risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19 if they become infected. The CF Foundation recommends that people with CF and those close to them continue taking precautions to protect their health and follow the CDC's guidance for those at higher risk.

The CF Foundation is monitoring COVID-19 cases in the U.S. through the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Patient Registry, which includes more than 30,000 people with CF -- nearly the entire population of people with CF in the U.S. -- and gathers data from a network of 133 care centers across the country. As of November 3, 2020, the CF Foundation Registry reported a total 344 confirmed COVID-19 positive cases in the U.S. Of the positive cases in the U.S., three deaths have been reported.

About the study

The paper, The global impact of SARS-CoV-2 in 181 people with cystic fibrosis, includes case reports from 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, U.K., and U.S. The full manuscript is available online.

About the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is the world's leader in the search for a cure for cystic fibrosis. The Foundation funds more CF research than any other organization, and nearly every CF drug available today was made possible because of Foundation support. Based in Bethesda, Md., the Foundation also supports and accredits a national care center network that has been recognized by the National Institutes of Health as a model of care for a chronic disease. The CF Foundation is a donor-supported nonprofit organization. For more information, visit

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