First Global Study of COVID-19 in Children With Cystic Fibrosis Reports Reassuring Outcomes

The Cystic Fibrosis Registry Global Harmonization Group, including the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, published findings from the first global study on the impact of COVID-19 on children with cystic fibrosis in the Journal of Cystic Fibrosis.

Dec. 9, 2020 | 4 min read

BETHESDA, Md. -- Today, the Cystic Fibrosis Registry Global Harmonization Group, including the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, published findings from the first global study on the impact of COVID-19 on children with cystic fibrosis. The data, published in the Journal of Cystic Fibrosis, are part of an international consortium to better understand the clinical experience and outcomes associated with the novel coronavirus among people with CF. The manuscript reports on 105 children under the age of 18 with cystic fibrosis from 13 countries between Feb. 1 and Aug. 7, 2020.

The study concludes that COVID-19 is usually associated with mild illness in children without severe pre-existing lung disease, offering a significantly more reassuring outlook than originally anticipated at the start of the global pandemic.

“We are highly encouraged by these findings on the impact of COVID-19 in children with CF,” said Bruce Marshall, MD, chief medical officer of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and an author of the paper. “However, further studies are needed to fully understand the impacts of this novel disease. We continue to urge all people living with CF to continue to take precautions to avoid exposure to COVID-19 and to work directly with their care teams to assess their personal risk during this time.”

The majority of the cases in the study experienced relatively mild illness when diagnosed with COVID-19.  The most common symptoms across the cohort were fever and altered cough. Approximately 70 percent of the cases were managed in the community, and of the 24 cases admitted to the hospital, just six required supplemental oxygen during their admission and two received non-invasive ventilation. Individuals with lower baseline lung function and body mass index were more likely to be hospitalized. At the time of data collection, two children were in a recovery phase with all others having made a full recovery. No deaths were attributed to COVID-19.

Our Commitment to COVID-19 Research

The CF Foundation is monitoring COVID-19 cases in the U.S. through the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Patient Registry, which gathers data from a network of 133 care centers across the country and includes more than 30,000 people with CF -- nearly the entire population of people with CF in the U.S. As of Dec. 3, 2020, the CF Foundation Registry reported a total 500 confirmed COVID-19 positive cases in the U.S. Of the positive cases in the U.S., three deaths have been reported in adults -- one in an individual with advanced lung disease and two in individuals who were post-transplant. The CF Foundation continues to recommend 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 of developing severe illness.

Additional studies resulting from the Cystic Fibrosis Registry Global Harmonization Group related to outcomes in CF and COVID-19 -- published in the April and November 2020 editions of the Journal of Cystic Fibrosis -- suggested that for most people with cystic fibrosis, outcomes are less severe than originally anticipated at the start of the global pandemic.

About the Study

The paper, Clinical characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 infection in children with cystic fibrosis: international observational study, includes cases from 13 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. 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

Media Contact 

Ashley Mahoney 
Phone: 240-200-3754  

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