BACKGROUND: Clozapine, an antipsychotic with unique efficacy in treatment-resistant psychosis, is associated with increased susceptibility to infection, including pneumonia. AIMS: To investigate associations between clozapine treatment and increased risk of COVID-19 infection in patients with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders who are receiving antipsychotic medications in a geographically defined population in London, UK. METHOD: Using information from South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLAM) clinical records, via the Clinical Record Interactive Search system, we identified 6309 individuals who had an ICD-10 diagnosis of schizophrenia-spectrum disorders and were taking antipsychotics at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic onset in the UK. People who were on clozapine treatment were compared with those on any other antipsychotic treatment for risk of contracting COVID-19 between 1 March and 18 May 2020. We tested associations between clozapine treatment and COVID-19 infection, adjusting for gender, age, ethnicity, body mass index (BMI), smoking status and SLAM service use. RESULTS: Of 6309 participants, 102 tested positive for COVID-19. Individuals who were on clozapine had increased risk of COVID-19 infection compared with those who were on other antipsychotic medication (unadjusted hazard ratio HR = 2.62, 95% CI 1.73-3.96), which was attenuated after adjusting for potential confounders, including clinical contact (adjusted HR = 1.76, 95% CI 1.14-2.72). CONCLUSIONS: These findings provide support for the hypothesis that clozapine treatment is associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 infection. Further research will be needed in other samples to confirm this association. Potential clinical implications are discussed.
Br J Psychiatry
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COVID-19, antipsychotics, clozapine, epidemiology, psychotic disorders