Panel answers challenging clinical questions about COVID-19 variants, vaccines, and therapeutics
PHILADELPHIA, December 13, 2021 – The American College of Physicians (ACP) and Annals of Internal Medicine hosted a virtual forum where expert panelists addressed challenging clinical questions about COVID-19. The discussion covered timely topics such as COVID-19 variants, including Omicron, vaccines, and emerging therapeutics. A full recording of the forum is available for replay here and is published in Annals of Internal Medicine along with commentary by Darilyn V. Moyer, MD, ACP chief executive officer and executive vice president; Christine Laine, MD, MPH, ACP senior vice president and editor-in-chief, Annals of Internal Medicine; and Deborah Cotton, MD, MPH, Deputy Editor of Annals of Internal Medicine.
The forum, COVID-19 Forum VII: Challenging Clinical Questions, was the 7th in a series of forums hosted by ACP and Annals of Internal Medicine and was held December 8. This forum was moderated by Dr. Cotton. The panelists included:
- Sabrina A. Assoumou, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine
- Judith S. Currier, MD, MSc, Professor of Medicine and Division Chief, Infectious Diseases at UCLA Department of Medicine Director, UCLA Clinical AIDS Research and Education (CARE) Center
- Jeanne Marrazzo, MD, MPH Director, Division of Infectious Diseases, Professor of Medicine at University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine
The panelists reviewed current knowledge about the Omicron variant, emphasizing that it is too early to know the degree to which people infected with Omicron will suffer adverse outcomes. Widespread vaccination is imperative to both to reduce the adverse clinical impact of Omicron and other variants and to prevent the emergence of new variants, they said.
Discussants agreed that even in those who have had prior COVID-19 infection, vaccination is still strongly indicated to prevent future COVID infection. Rapid and widespread testing is needed to identify infection early. For those who do become infected, effective and accessible outpatient therapies, such as monoclonal antibodies and oral antivirals, were identified as important components of the clinical armamentarium necessary to progress from pandemic to endemic disease.
“We continue to see COVID-19 spread with new variants,” said George M. Abraham, MD, MPH, MACP, President, ACP, “so while treatments are available, the best way to deal with COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and get booster shots. Vaccines are our best defense in this battle.”
Other topics addressed included vaccine side effects, persisting symptoms following acute COVID-19, use of ineffective and even harmful therapies, and very preliminary data that persons with immunocompromise may have difficulty clearing the virus after acute infection.
"Unfortunately, SARS-CoV-2 is a stubborn virus, an alphabet of variants have emerged, testing remains suboptimal, and pandemic fatigue and reliance on misinformation have resulted in too many people choosing not to adhere to recommendations for vaccination and other public health measures," said Dr. Laine. "With these forums, we aim to dispel myths and spread truths that physicians can use to battle COVID-19 in their practice."
About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 161,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
About Annals of Internal Medicine
Annals of Internal Medicine is the flagship journal of the American College of Physicians (ACP). Annals is the most widely read and cited general internal medicine journal and one of the most influential peer-reviewed clinical journals in the world. Annals’ mission is to promote excellence in medicine, enable physicians and other health care professionals to be well-informed members of the medical community and society, advance standards in the conduct and reporting of medical research, and contribute to improving the health of people worldwide. New content is published every Tuesday at Annals.org. Follow Annals on Twitter and Instagram @AnnalsofIM and on Facebook.