People with cystic fibrosis do not usually have a higher risk of COVID-19 when compared to people without this condition. They also typically have an infection course similar to people without cystic fibrosis.
It may sometimes be difficult to recognize COVID-19 symptoms in people with cystic fibrosis as these two conditions may share similar symptoms. However, certain symptoms, such as the loss of taste and smell, might be a sign of a COVID-19 infection.
This article looks at the relationship between COVID-19 and cystic fibrosis, how people with cystic fibrosis can lower the risk of COVID-19 infections, and if COVID-19 vaccines may interact with cystic fibrosis medications.
All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub for the most recent information on COVID-19.
A person with cystic fibrosis does not usually have an increased risk of COVID-19.
The worldwide number of people with cystic fibrosis who have been seriously ill or died due to COVID-19 is low.
However, some people with additional underlying conditions may have a higher risk of developing complications. This includes people with cystic fibrosis who have had a lung or solid-organ transplant.
People with cystic fibrosis generally display the same COVID-19 symptoms that people without this condition typically have.
COVID-19 symptoms may look similar to those of cystic fibrosis. However, certain symptoms such as the loss of taste and smell or fever are typical of COVID-19.
COVID-19 symptoms may range from mild to severe, including:
- loss of taste and smell
- sore throat
- muscle pain
- nausea and vomiting
- shortness of breath
- malaise or generally feeling unwell
If a person has symptoms of COVID-19, they should consider undergoing testing to confirm or rule out a COVID-19 diagnosis.
If a person with cystic fibrosis tests positive for COVID-19, it is best that they contact their doctor and inform them about their health conditions and the COVID-19 symptoms they may be experiencing.
Doctors can determine if a person with cystic fibrosis may need COVID-19 treatment or hospitalization. If a person with cystic fibrosis has more difficulty breathing than usual, they should seek immediate medical help.
Currently, there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines interact with cystic fibrosis medications.
However, certain oral antiviral treatments that may reduce the risk of serious illness due to COVID-19 may have some interactions with CFTR modulators.
A person with cystic fibrosis may wish to consider discussing any concerns they may have about taking cystic fibrosis medications in conjunction with COVID-19-related medications and vaccines with their doctor.
There are various steps a person with cystic fibrosis can take to reduce their risk of COVID-19. These
- staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccines
- trying to improve indoor ventilation
- spending time outdoors when possible, as viruses spread more easily indoors
- considering wearing a face mask or face protection
- social distancing and avoiding getting too close to a person who has COVID-19
A person’s doctor will be able to provide them with more information on ways they can reduce their risk of COVID-19.
People with cystic fibrosis do not generally have an increased risk of COVID-19 when compared to people without cystic fibrosis. When they do develop COVID-19, they typically experience similar symptoms and they usually have a similar outcome when compared to people without cystic fibrosis.
Vaccines may help reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 and developing severe illness. Spending time outside rather than indoors may also reduce the risk of infection.
Wearing a face covering and social distancing can also help to lower the risk of being in contact with the virus.