Thyroid UK Statement regarding COVID-19
Our thoughts are with you all in these difficult times. We understand how worrying it is to not see your family and friends and to not know how the coronavirus would affect you if you catch it.
Thyroid UK is thankful to all front-line workers who are looking after us in a variety of ways but especially the NHS and carers who are in the midst of this awful disease.
Thyroid UK have received enquiries about whether people with thyroid disease are at an increased risk of coronavirus (COVID-19).
We have checked with our medical advisers and have the following statement to make:
COVID-19 is a new virus that can affect your lungs and airways and cause various symptoms, the most common of which are a cough, a high temperature (fever) and difficulty in breathing.
In people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like asthma, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and chronic lung disease the symptoms can be much worse. However, these symptoms are similar to other viruses such as a cold and the flu so having these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have the illness.
You can only know that if you test for it and we know that is difficult to do at the moment. There are plans now, though, to send out testing to random members of the public and more testing will be available in the future.
Doctors are not completely sure how the virus is spread but it is probably spread by droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes and may be caught by touching a surface, object or the hand of an infected person. How long any respiratory virus survives will depend on a number of factors such as what surface the virus is on; whether it is exposed to sunlight; differences in temperature and humidity and exposure to cleaning products.
COVID-19 can be spread by close contact (within 2 metres or less). It is not definite whether people with the virus who don’t have symptoms can infect someone else.
The incubation period is between 2 to 14 days so if a person remains well 14 days after contact with someone who has the coronavirus, they have not been infected.
At the moment, there is not enough evidence regarding people with thyroid disorders. There have been papers written about COVID-19 but they do not discuss people with thyroid disease.
Although there is no reason to believe that people with thyroid problems are at any more risk from COVID-19 than people who are healthy, it will pay to be vigilant. Wash your hands regularly and, as the Government has now advised, work at home if you can, don’t travel on public transport unless it is necessary and use face masks if it gives you more confidence.
Hashimoto’s disease and Grave’s disease are autoimmune disorders that directly affect the thyroid i.e. the antibodies affect how the thyroid works. Thyroid disease autoimmunity does not mean that you have a depressed immune system. It means that your immune system is attacking your thyroid. These are two different things.
However, if you have thyroid cancer, you should definitely take the Governments advice and be shielded.
Thyroid medications do not weaken your immune system. Only immunosuppressants do this and those that are on immunosuppressants need to be extra vigilant and be shielded.
The British Thyroid Association have published some excellent information which we recommend you read:
“The COVID-19 pandemic presents significant challenges to us all. The following statements regarding management of thyroid disease have been formulated to provide clinical advice to medical colleagues during this time:
- BTA/SfE statement regarding Issues specific to thyroid dysfunction during the COVID-19 pandemic
- BTA/SFE advice regarding resource-limited treatment of thyrotoxicosis during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Advice for patients with thyroid cancer (Statement by Thyroid Cancer Forum UK, SfE and BTA)
We hope you find them useful.”
Thyroid UK also recommends that everyone follows NHS and government advice about reducing the risk of infection:
You should only leave the house for one of four reasons:
- Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
- One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
- Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
- Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home
You can find more information of this here:
This will keep a lot more people safe from the virus.
There is a list of people who are classed as vulnerable and family and friends should keep away from them if they can. If friends and family do visit you, keep at least two metres away. Get them to leave food on the doorstep. This list is as follows:
This group includes those who are:
- aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
- under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (ie anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):
- chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
- problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
- a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tabletsor chemotherapy
- being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
- those who are pregnant
More information about this can be found here where we are sure the list will be updated:
We are not out of lockdown yet but it looks like it will be possible in the not too distant future, although we will all still need to be very careful and keep to social distancing and shielding if you are vulnerable.
Our advisers will be keeping us up to date periodically and we will be updating this statement when necessary.
For more information go to:
Stay safe everyone!
Date updated: 2.5.20 (V1.4)