Autoimmune Community Turns Out for National Briefing with CDC on Covid-19 & Autoimmunity
On Friday, April 3, Autoimmune Association co-hosted a briefing with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and in conjunction with National Coalition of Autoimmune Patient Groups (NCAPG) on the risks associated with COVID-19 for people with autoimmune diseases. The response was amazing. More than 4,500 people registered and 2,720 participated “live;” more than 1,600 questions were submitted, and since then, more than 100 new questions were submitted from patients. AARDA, NCAPG organizations and others are actively responding through FAQs and individualized answers. In every instance, patients are advised to check-in with their physicians.
The National Briefing featured an expert panel:
- Dr. Georgina Peacock, CDC COVID-19 Task Force Lead and Director, Division of Human Development and Disability at the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
- Dr. Aline Charabaty, gastroenterologist, Clinical Director of the GI Division and Director of the IBD Center, Johns Hopkins-Sibley Memorial Hospital
- Dr. Nancy Carteron, rheumatologist, University of California – Berkeley, School of Optometry, former Chair of the Medical & Scientific Advisors for the Sjogren’s Foundation
- Dr. Eric Chow, COVID-19 Response: Medical Care and Countermeasures Task Force, Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer, Influenza Division, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease
Dr. Betty Diamond, the chairperson of AARDA’s Scientific Advisory Board and the Head of the Center for Autoimmune, Musculoskeletal and Hematopoietic Diseases at The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, moderated the session. The physicians confirmed the grim reality we’ve been hearing — patients with autoimmune diseases and other underlying medical conditions and our elder population are at higher risk for COVID-19 and increased complications.Throughout the webinar, the doctors reminded us that it is absolutely critical that those with compromised immune systems strictly adhere to CDC recommendations. Patients should continue taking prescribed medicines and recommended treatments including in-home infusions, where possible. Some physicians are reducing the amount of prednisone to 20 mg per day for selected patients as a precautionary measure to avoid the possibility of increased risk and non-effectiveness of the steroid.
In addition to fever, cough, and shortness of breath, autoimmune patients may experience other symptoms that could possibly indicate the virus. Patients should be on high alert for symptoms they do not regularly experience and contact their healthcare professionals with questions and concerns. It is also recommended that patients utilize telemedicine apps to connect with medical professionals and postpone non-essential testing and procedures.
The National Briefing recording and slides are posted on the Autoimmune Association website, and every person registered received a follow-up communication with a link to access the session.
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