COVID-19 and SMA

COVID 19 virus

People living with SMA or providing care for someone living with SMA may face difficulties as this new coronavirus propagates. Leading experts in neuromuscular conditions are working with colleagues across Europe to learn from their COVID-19 experience over recent weeks. We are gathering information, which will we share with you as it becomes available.


What is COVID-19 and what causes it?

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

Coronaviruses (CoV) have been identified as human pathogens since the 1960’s. Coronaviruses infect humans and many other vertebrates. Illness in humans manifests itself mostly through respiratory or gastrointestinal infections, however symptoms can range from the common cold to more severe lower respiratory infections such as pneumonia [1]. They have emerged in recent years to cause human outbreaks, such as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) since 2012. Although

COVID-19 began in December 2019 in Wuhan, China and has since spread to other parts of the world.

How is it transmitted?

It is not know exactly how this virus spreads from person to person. In humans, the transmission of coronaviruses between an infected individual and others can occur via respiratory secretions either:

How does COVID-19 manifest itself?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:

Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. Other associated symptoms can include loss of taste and smell. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

How do I stay safe?

Leading experts in neuromuscular conditions are working with colleagues across Europe to learn from their experience over recent weeks. They have reached the following conclusion:

All people (children and adults) with a diagnosis of a neuromuscular condition and their carers should consider social distancing at this time. However, those caregivers and family members who live with, or regularly visit, a person living with SMA, should also follow the recommendations outlined below to reduce the chance of bringing COVID-19 infection into the home:


Treatments and vaccines for SARS-CoV-2

At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing research initiatives. For example at the University of Oxford: Mapping, vaccine development, drug repurposing and trials.

COVID-19 and SMA

How the virus impacts the SMA population is currently not known nor if the community is at an increased risk of serious disease.

People with chronic diseases, including neuromuscular disorders, such as spinal muscular atrophy, should take extra precautions to minimise the risk of getting COVID-19. The Association of British Neurologists indicates that people living with Type 2 SMA are at high risk as are  Type 3s high if FVC is less than 60% or if using BiPAP (usually nonambulant).

Our experts are working together to learn from their COVID-19 experience over recent weeks. We will share information as it becomes available.

Spinraza Administration

If you are concerned about Spinraza™ administration, please contact your study/ administration site as the situation may vary from country to country.

Biogen issued a community statement  on 24th May stating that:

Clinical Trials

If you are concerned about the status of your current participation in clinical trials or about Spinraza™ administration, please contact your study/ administration site.

In your Country


  1. Pathogenic human coronavirus infections: causes and consequences of cytokine storm and immunopathology. Channappanavar R, Perlman S.  Seminars in Immunopathology. 2017 July 01;39(5):529-39.
  2. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
  3. World Health Organisation
  4. University of Oxford
  5. EMA’s guidance to sponsors on how to manage clinical trials during the COVID-19 outbreak
  6. Association of British Neurologists