2020 will be remembered in history as the year of the pandemic. Thousands of people have been infected by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (>500,000 infected) and many deaths (>25,000) resulting from COVID-19, particularly older people with chronic diseases (including cardiovascular and diabetes) and cancer. COVID-19 highlighted the weakness of health systems in several locations, including those with strong welfare systems (e.g. Europe and USA). The speed of the transmission and the high frequency of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) requiring subintensive and intensive care units (ICU) demonstrated the inadequacy of their preparedness to deal with acute epidemic diseases. The fast track solution was to re-introduce the battle-field war strategies: the triage to decide those to be treated, based on age (in some Italian hospital the older people admitted were 55-year old) or on health (in USA disabilities are considered as selection criteria).
At the same time we had few very encouraging positive findings:
- The capacity to establish in 10 days hospitals and shelters for the care of thousands of patients, even at intensive and sub-intensive level
- The potential to develop preventive vaccines in few months, the General Scientist Dr Chen Wei, produced the vaccine and tested it on her arm on March 5th
- The discovery of the efficacy of anti-IL6-IL6R axis to solve ARDS and to drastically reduce or even prevent ICU stay.
This series welcomes articles on all COVID-19-related topics, in particular:
- Molecular characterization of the SARS-CoV-2 to characterize the genetic evolution of the virus and to identify variants for pathogenicity purposes as well as immune preventive strategies;
- Immunology, molecular and systems biology studies aimed to early diagnosis and innovative treatment of SARS-CoV-2-related disease in order to mitigate their huge death burden;
- Preclinical and clinical studies to identify effective molecules (innovative molecules or repurposing drugs) for treatment of COVID-19 severe ARDS.
Dr Maria Lina Tornesello, Istituto Nazionale Tumori, Naples, Italy
Franco M Buonaguro, Istituto Nazionale Tumori, Naples, Italy