UNMC physician part of national panel developing treatment guidelines for COVID-19

Nebraska News

OMAHA, Neb. (KCAU) – An infectious diseases physician at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) is part of a national panel developing treatment guidelines for COVID-19.

Susan Swindells, M.B.B.S. is joined on the panel by various U.S. physicians, statisticians and other experts as they work to develop treatment guidelines for the virus.

Swindells and others were invited to join the U.S. National Institutes of Health panel by Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The NIH is the nation’s medical research agency, which includes 27 institutes and centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Swindells is also a professor in the UNMC Department of Internal Medicine and founder of the Specialty Care Clinic. She said she will serve as long as needed on the 30-member panel of experts drawn from health care and academic organizations, federal agencies and professional societies.

“It was an honor to be asked and my pleasure to be of service,” Swindells said. “It’s a terrific group to work with – smart, hard-working and thoughtful. Our first call was March 24, so this was done in record time.”

Debra Romberger, M.D., Henry J. Lehnhoff Professor and chair of the UNMC Department of Internal Medicine, said the department is pleased by Dr. Swindells’ involvement.

“Dr. Swindells is extremely well-qualified to contribute to this NIH panel creating COVID-19 guidelines,” Dr. Romberger said. “Her track record of bringing new treatment strategies in other important infectious diseases like tuberculosis and HIV around the world gives her great insight.”

The NIH guidelines, intended for health care providers, are based on published and preliminary data and the clinical expertise of the panelists, many of whom are frontline clinicians caring for patients during the rapidly evolving pandemic.

The guidelines are posted online and will be updated as new data are published in peer-reviewed scientific literature and other authoritative information emerges.

The guidelines consider two broad categories of therapies currently in use by health care providers for COVID-19: antivirals, which may target the coronavirus directly, and host modifiers and immune-based therapies, which may influence the immune response to the virus or target the virus.

The panel’s conclusions about treating COVID-19 with various agents that fall into these two classes of therapies are distilled in summary recommendations. Subsequently, the document provides background information about each agent—such as clinical data about its use, ongoing clinical trials, and known interactions with other drugs—that forms the basis for the recommendations.

The guidelines also describe the evaluation and stratification of patients based on their risk of infection and severity of illness. Recommendations in this section address best practices for managing patients at different stages of infection, for example:

  • Outpatients who are either asymptomatic or who have mild to moderate symptoms and are self-isolating
  • Inpatients with severe illness or critical disease

Special considerations for pregnant women and for children who are infected also are included.

For more information about NIH and its programs, click here.

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