Thyroid disease is not known to be linked with an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 infections, neither is it known to be associated with severe COVID-19 infection, says the Diabetes, Endocrine & Metabolic Society of Ghana (DEMSoG).
“Having an autoimmune thyroid condition does not mean you are immunocompromised. The part of the immune system responsible for autoimmune thyroid disorders is separate from the immune system responsible for fighting off viral infections, such as COVID-19.
“Individuals classified as having a weak immune system include those with conditions such as HIV/AIDS, cancers, diabetes and those on medications such as high dose steroids and cancer chemotherapy.”
This was contained in a statement signed by Dr Josephine Akpalu, the President of the DEMSoG, and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra.
The Society, as part of outlined activities to mark the “World Thyroid Day” which falls on May 25 of every year, sought to put a spotlight on thyroid disease and COVID-19 in order to respond to some of the questions and doubts of people with the condition and alleviate their fears.
“We are not oblivious of the fact that several of our clients living with thyroid disorders are worried and probably inundated by information from social media channels; some may also have no direct access to clinical care,” the statement said.
It explained that the common anti-thyroid drugs such as carbimazole and propylthiouracil were not known ordinarily to increase the risk of infection, unless they result in ‘agranulocytosis’.
This is a rare side effect, which occurs when the number of white blood cells, which are part of the body defense system, reduces dramatically.
The Society, therefore, advised patients to stop taking such mediations and seek medical help immediately they experience sore throat, mouth sores, fever and/or flu-like illness.
On the other hand, the statement said, some people with thyroid eye disease and thyroiditis might be on high dose steroids which could suppress their immune system.
“If you are on high dose steroids, you will be in the group of people who may be at increased risk of severe diseases from COVID-19 should you contract the virus. Such a patient must take extra precautions to prevent getting infected with the virus,” it advised.
There is also no evidence that levothyroxine, radioiodine therapy or poorly controlled thyroid disease increases the risk of viral illnesses including COVID-19 infection, the statement said, and advised patients including those infected with COVID-19 to continue taking their thyroid medications for their general wellbeing.
“Finally, we encourage all Ghanaians including patients living with thyroid disorders to practice hand hygiene, avoid touching their mouths, nose and eyes and use face masks when leaving home,” it added.