The State of Pandemic-Era Rheumatology Research

November 6, 2020
Kevin Kunzmann

The world is suddenly fixed on the field's most promising agents for an unprecedented virus. It's created a unique situation for specialists to collaborate.

The coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic put heavy strain on the progression of medicine early on—forcing laboratories and clinics to temporarily vacate, overwhelming health systems and hospitals, and requiring a reallocation of personnel and resourcing.

But in that crisis came the silver lining of necessary collaboration: as all specialties and fields of healthcare were challenged, networks and opportunities for complementary previously unknown work were met.

And in more directly-affected fields like rheumatology—in which treated patients were at suggested heightened risk of infection burden, and promising class agents were cast into the spotlight for potential COVID-19 care—the change was very apparent, and very broadcasted, right away.

In an interview with HCPLive® during the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Convergence 2020, Elaine Husni, MD, MPH, Vice Chair of Rheumatology at the Cleveland Clinic, discussed the sudden focus put onto clinical assessment of therapies she and her colleagues prescribe routinely for their patients.

“As much as we want to talk to the public about the results, we also have to take a step back and talk to people about how we run trials, how we need to get the right patients in the trial to get the right answer,” Husni said.

Husni also gave an update on the status of rheumatology-based clinical trials since the pandemic, saying researchers are at “full force.” She lastly gave perspective on what COVID-19 has done to her field and many others—much bad, but some good.

“I do think pandemic, by definition, means that it’s all-encompassing,” she explained. “Sometimes we have to go back to the definition and realize we’ve gone through many different pandemics. This is another one, but we obviously have more resources and disciplines involved, which I think is really helpful.”