Coronavirus Risk for People Living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Representatives of the National MS Society and the chair of the National Medical Advisory Committee participated on a committee to revise the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF) global COVID-19 advice for people living with MS, which is detailed below.
People with underlying lung and heart conditions and those aged over 60 years are more likely to experience complications and become severely ill with the COVID-19 virus. This group will include many people living with MS, especially those with additional health complications and mobility issues.
Current evidence suggests that simply having MS does not increase the risk of dying from COVID-19. However, the possible long-term consequences of having MS may make people more susceptible to having a severe case of COVID-19. The risk of having to go to hospital for COVID-19 rises with age, progressive MS and higher levels of disability.
Certain groups of people with MS may be at an increased risk of becoming severely ill or dying with COVID-19. The following groups should take extra care to minimize their exposure to the virus:
- People with progressive MS
- People with MS over the age of 60
- People with higher levels of disability (for example, an EDSS score of 6 or above)
- People with diseases of the heart or lungs
- People with obesity (body mass index of 30 or higher)
Learn more about who is at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19
from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Protecting Yourself from Coronavirus
The CDC provides recommendations on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19
and what to do if you show symptoms
In addition, we recommend that people with MS should:
- Wear a face mask in public and ensure that you are using it correctly by following these instructions (Need a mask? Thanks to a partnership with Primal, you can purchase National MS Society-branded masks with 15% of proceeds supporting the Society’s COVID-19 Response Fund).
- Avoid public gatherings and crowds
- Avoid using public transport where possible
- Where possible, use alternatives to face-to-face routine medical appointments (for example, telephone appointments).
Caregivers and family members who live with, or regularly visit, a person with MS in one of these groups should also follow these recommendations to reduce the chance of bringing COVID-19 infection into the home.
National lockdown measures in place in many parts of the world might be relaxed in the coming weeks and months. Until our understanding of the coronavirus improves, people with MS in these higher risk groups and their caregivers should continue to follow the advice above to reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19.
Working and Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Healthcare Workers Who Have MS
- There is no increased risk of you getting COVID-19 because you have MS.
- If you are concerned about your risk of getting COVID-19 because of the DMT you take, please contact your MS provider for advice.
- There are no special personal protective equipment (PPE) instructions for people with MS. You should follow the same precautions as other healthcare workers.
There are many protections that could be available to you if your employer is not being flexible with work from home options or workplace accommodations. Visit our employment resources page to learn more or contact an MS Navigator to discuss your individual rights and options.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
At this time there is no specific advice for women with MS who are pregnant or breastfeeding. There is general information on COVID-19 and pregnancy and breastfeeding on the CDC website
Vitamin D has many functions, including supporting the immune system response to infections. There have been recent reports that low Vitamin D may be associated with worse COVID-19 outcomes. However, a large study
looking at risk of getting COVID-19 did not identify low Vitamin D as a risk factor. Clinical trials are underway to see if Vitamin D supplements play a role in reducing severe COVID-19 outcomes. Until more is known, there is no recommendation to start or increase Vitamin D supplements. Read more
about vitamin D and MS.