Coeliac disease and coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs

We know there are lots of concerns and queries about coronavirus and coeliac disease and we have answered as many as we can below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do to stay well?

The NHS website and Government website are being updated on a regular basis and are the best place to go to for the latest information and guidance. Follow their advice to try and keep yourself safe.

As always, make sure you follow a strict gluten free diet, which is the treatment for coeliac disease.

What is Coeliac UK doing to help people manage their gluten free diet during the coronavirus pandemic?

We continue to work with our Health Advisory Council to make sure we’re giving you the best advice in line with Government guidance. Please keep an eye on our website and social media for the latest updates. We also continue to work with food manufacturers and retailers to ensure availability of gluten free food for people with coeliac disease throughout the pandemic.

Alongside this, we've created resources to help our gluten free community keep living well gluten free. We've also developed new digital support tools for those recently diagnosed, and information on how to keep busy and cope with loneliness.

We’re doing what we can but if you can think of anything that would help you, please let us know by clicking here.

How can I find out if the guidance on coeliac disease and coronavirus changes?

Keep an eye on our website and the government updates too. We will do our best to keep you updated with this evolving situation.

If there is no gluten free food available at the supermarket, will it become available on prescription?

Gluten free staple foods are available on prescription in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Gluten free bread and flour mixes are available in some areas in England so check availability here. In areas of England where access to gluten free food on prescription has been restricted, it is unlikely that local policies will be reviewed at this present time.

I can’t find any gluten free products in my local supermarket, including essentials like gluten free pasta and flour. What can I do?

If you're struggling to find gluten free products at your supermarket, we advise you to:

  • ask your store manager what time they receive their gluten free deliveries and go to the store then
  • try local convenience stores 
  • try mail order companies to see if you can get food delivered
  • try local suppliers who might be better stocked in their produce

If you're venturing out, please make sure you follow Government guidance to avoid risk.

Are people with coeliac disease at increased risk of severe illness from covid-19?

As coronavirus is a new illness, at the start of the pandemic there was no research specifically looking at the risk to people with coeliac disease. We are pleased to share the results of a research study in Sweden which found that coeliac disease was not associated with an increased risk of hospitalisation for covid-19 or death due to covid-19.

The study compared over 40,000 people with coeliac disease over a 6 month period to “matched controls”; people who don’t have coeliac disease but are the same gender, age and live in the same county. Data from this study was also adjusted to take into consideration other pre-existing health conditions.

The researchers compared the following outcomes between people with coeliac disease and controls:

  • Hospitalisation for covid-19
  • Having severe covid-19 (either being admitted into intensive care unit with a covid-19 diagnosis or death from covid-19 with covid-19 listed as a primary diagnosis)

The research found that people with coeliac disease were not at an increased risk of hospitalisation from covid-19 compared to matched controls from the general population. 

In addition, people with coeliac disease were not at an increased risk of intensive care admission or death related to covid-19.

Results from this study suggest that people with coeliac disease do not have an increased risk for severe covid-19. Although, this study was based in Sweden, which had different regulations for social distancing and restaurant, shop and school closures compared to other countries the results should be reassuring for people with coeliac disease in the UK.

This study did not investigate the long term effects of covid-19 such as “long covid”, where people have symptoms that last weeks or months after the infection has gone.

Prof Jonas Ludvigsson, one of the researchers involved in this project, spoke about this research at our virtual 2021 research conference. You can watch the video here.

We will continue to provide updates as more research is published into the impact of coeliac disease on infection, immunity and covid-19.

Are children with coeliac disease within the priority group for vaccination?

The current vaccination recommendations from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advises that children aged 12 years and over with specific health conditions should be offered covid-19 vaccination. Coeliac disease is not one of the conditions listed by JCVI. The overall vaccination strategy for children is likely to differ to the approach for adults as fewer than 5% of covid-19 cases are amongst children and in general they appear to have mild disease. It is also reassuring that children with coeliac disease have a low risk of hyposplenism.

If there is limited gluten free food available at the supermarket, will it become available on prescription?

Gluten free staple foods are available on prescription in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Gluten free bread and flour mixes are available in some areas in England so check availability here. In areas of England where access to gluten free food on prescription has been restricted, it is unlikely that local policies will be reviewed at this present time. However, we are aware of a small number of people having had support on prescription reinstated at the GP’s clinical  discretion.  

I can’t find any gluten free products in my local supermarket, including essentials like gluten free pasta and flour. What can I do?

If you're struggling to find gluten free products at your supermarket, we advise you to:

  • ask your store manager what time they receive their gluten free deliveries and go to the store then
  • try local convenience stores 
  • try mail order companies to see if you can get food delivered
  • try local suppliers who might be better stocked in their produce.