How Rheumatology Has Changed Under COVID-19

November 5, 2020
Kevin Kunzmann

A discussion on how the pandemic has burdened and, in some ways, bettered the very involved specialty.

The position in which rheumatologists find themselves during the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is uniquely involved. For one, immunocompromised patients were among the first to be considered at risk of severe outcomes from SARS-CoV-2 infection—a fact which drove reported treatment stoppages without the initial guidance of clinicians.

For another fact, many of the groundbreaking therapies and biologics which have been headlined rheumatic research in recent years have become among the most touted for potential COVID-19 symptom care.

This year’s agenda for the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Convergence 2020 reflected that interesting intersection by which this field—one which has many strides to make in its own advances of patient care and disease mitigation—finds itself during a viral pandemic.

In an interview with HCPLive during ACR 2020, Elaine Husni, MD, MPH, Vice Chair of Rheumatology at the Cleveland Clinic, discussed what that involvement in COVID-19 has been like.

“We are normally going through a process where we know how to study these for both safety and efficacy, and know those are getting truncated from years, to months, to weeks of time,” Husni said. “And that’s new for us.”

Speaking specifically on the biologic therapies being assessed for COVID-19, Husni discussed how the drug class has had involved and split use among various specialties. Despite the hyper involvement of many specialists in this drug class for a new indication in a pandemic-level virus, collaboration has dulled any chaos it harbors.

“I think the silver lining for us is we’re looking for how to design studies at a much more rapid pace now, we’re able to think of these drugs in a different way…I think, overnight, we created the COVID-19 Registry,” she said. “We’re now beginning to get the benefits of that.”