In the early weeks of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, little was known about the risk factors of this novel disease in haematology patients. We therefore created a national, multi-center, retrospective study via a national consortium of haematology centres in Belgium to investigate the incidence and clinical characteristics of COVID-19 in haematology patients. By combining these data with data collected through the national public health institute Sciensano and the national Belgian Cancer Registry, we were able to show that haematology patients were at an increased risk of being hospitalised with COVID-19 (1 in 250 haematology patients versus 1 in 2000 in the general population). Furthermore, we found that patients with multiple myeloma and acute leukaemia were overrepresented in these hospitalisations. Mortality at 90 days was 38% during the first wave, compared to 19.3% in the general population. We therefore conclude that haematology patients with COVID-19 are at a significantly higher risk of both hospitalisation and death.

(BELG J HEMATOL 2022;13(7):269–76)