Patients who have the rare disease Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency appear to be at higher risk of developing serious problems related to COVID-19. That increased risk prompted the Alpha-1 Foundation to “highly recommend” that patients to continue to use masks, avoid large gatherings and take other precautions even after they are vaccinated.
“You should still take steps to protect yourself and others in many situations, like wearing a mask, staying at least six feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces,” the foundation’s COVID-19 guidance says on its website.
Alpha 1 is a genetic condition that means a person is unable to produce a protein called alpha-1 antitrypsin, which protects the lungs from inflammation. Alpha 1 also can lead to liver disease. Because there’s no official guidance – or anything yet in the medical literature – for Alpha 1 patients about COVID, the medical team at the Alpha-1 Foundation and AlphaNet came together to make the recommendations.
“Alphas with lung disease are among the groups considered most susceptible to serious complications if they become infected,” the Foundation said. “It is likely that Alphas with liver disease are also at high risk for serious disease should they become infected.”
Those who have one or more abnormal genes for Alpha 1, but do not have lung or liver disease, are not at any more risk than someone it the general population, according the to the Foundation.