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COVID-19: consider cytokine storm syndromes and immunosuppression

May might be Arthritis Awareness Month, but Spring is still coronavirus season. While COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, the virus also appears to cause hyperinflammation that contributes to organ failure and mortality in patients with the most severe infections (The Lancet 395, 1033–1034 (2020)). It is for this reason that scientists and clinicians have begun exploring whether drugs like hydroxychloroquine and baricitinib might help manage some cases of the disease. These immunosuppressive agents can also be prescribed to combat the inflammation caused by autoimmune disorders like Rheumatoid Arthritis. The jury is very much still out on if and how these potent medications might play a role in fighting this pandemic.

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