Has the incidence of giant cell arteritis in England and Northern Ireland been influenced by the covid-19 pandemic? A case cohort study using CPRD Aurum data

Date of Approval
Application Number
Technical Summary

We witnessed an increase in the incidence of GCA during the COVID-19 pandemic, with peaks in incidence rates following peaks in COVID-19 prevalence in the local area (Bath, Somerset). The aim of this study is to investigate if COVID-19 infection has increased the incidence of GCA, and to evaluate the temporal relationship between COVID-19 and onset of GCA.

The study population of interest will be all adults aged 50 or over, which is the at-risk population for developing GCA. Primary exposure will be COVID-19 infection and primary outcome will be the development of a new case of GCA as coded in the CPRD Aurum dataset. The design will be a case cohort study which will allow determination odds ratios and hazard ratios of developing GCA after infection with COVID-19. The effect of the covariates age, gender, smoking status, BMI, vaccination status and comorbidity will also be evaluated. The latency period between COVID-19 infection and GCA diagnosis will be estimated from the data.

This study will provide further evidence for the viral hypothesis of GCA to raise public awareness of the disease and may help in future to develop early warning scores to be able to detect GCA sooner to prevent sequelae such as irreversible visual loss.

Health Outcomes to be Measured

Incident cases of GCA; Visual loss


Sarah Skeoch - Chief Investigator - University of Bath
Ben Mulhearn - Corresponding Applicant - University of Bath
Anita McGrogan - Collaborator - University of Bath
Jessica Ellis - Collaborator - University of Bath
John Pauling - Collaborator - University of Bath
Julia Snowball - Collaborator - University of Bath
Neil McHugh - Collaborator - University of Bath
Rachel Charlton - Collaborator - University of Bath
Sarah Tansley - Collaborator - University of Bath