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Multiple Sclerosis & COVID-19: What You Need to Know

Affinity Health explores links between Multiple Sclerosis and COVID-19.

What is MS?

MS is a potentially devastating brain and spinal cord illness. It has the potential to cause permanent nerve injury or degeneration.


Multiple Sclerosis South Africa estimates that there are 5 000 MS sufferers nationwide. Furthermore, a total of 2.8 million people live with MS worldwide.


MS symptoms vary greatly. Symptoms depend on the extent of nerve damage and the level of impact. Some people with severe MS may lose the ability to walk. Others may go through long periods of remission without experiencing any new symptoms.


MS has no known cure. But treatments can help patients recover faster after attacks. Treatments also alter the course of the disease and manage symptoms.

Risk Factors Associated with COVID-19 and Patients with MS

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were many concerns about the risk of infection and MS.


MS affects the immune system. Also, MS disease-modifying treatments (DMTs) influence the immune response. There were significant concerns about the severity of COVID-19 in MS patients. Health experts also worried about potential implications of MS DMTs on COVID-19 outcomes.


High Risk Factors to Consider

According to Affinity Health, there is no solid evidence that MS increases your chances of contracting COVID-19. But if you have MS, certain factors influence how you respond to the virus.


Experts are unsure how COVID-19 or its vaccination affect those who have MS. But national and international health organisations are monitoring the progress of the virus. They are attempting to offer the best recommendations for individuals with MS.

What Exactly Does Higher-Risk Mean?

Higher-risk includes MS patients likelier to contract COVID-19 because they:

  • Have another medical problem, such as lung or heart disease.
  • Are over 60 and unable to move around much.
  • Have disease-modifying therapies such as immunosuppressants.

“Don’t stop taking your medication. Instead, discuss your treatment with your doctor. They will identify the best option,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

How to Keep Yourself Safe

If you have MS, your doctor may tell you to be more cautious than most people. But you can follow the World Health Organization’s safety guidelines. For all safety guidelines, click here.


Caregivers and family members of patients with MS should also take precautions. It is vital to reduce their chances of contracting and transmitting COVID-19. Precautions include vaccinations, washing hands, wearing cloth face masks and avoiding crowds.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is the leading provider of affordable medical insurance in South Africa. Members enjoy access to a network of healthcare providers. We have designed healthcare products to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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