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Free Content The role of the allergist/immunologist in the COVID-19 pandemic: A Janus-faced presentation


Following its initial description in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, coronavirus-2 (COVID‐19) has rapidly progressed into a worldwide pandemic, affecting millions of lives. Although every specialty of medicine has been affected, the field of allergy/immunology holds a special place in the battle against this modern-day plague. Because of the specialized training in allergy and clinical immunology, and the familiarity with comorbid contributing conditions, the allergist/immunologist is uniquely poised to play a major role both in the delivery of specialized therapeutic procedures and practices that can improve the health of patients with COVID-19 as well as in the use of forthcoming vaccines for the prevention of its spread.


The purpose of this report is to examine the current body of evidence supporting the two phases of infection and inflammation that influence the pathogenesis of COVID-19 and to provide a classification of COVID-19 disease presentations and potential therapeutic targets with which the allergist/immunologist has particular expertise.


This article was based on a literature review of articles published in PubMed related to COVID-19 and the immune response, and the author’s own research and clinical experiences in the field of immunology.


Currently, the management of COVID-19 disease is being directed by a preventive strategy based on social distancing, quarantine, and facemasks to reduce the spread of the virus. Numerous clinical trials are being initiated to identify effective treatments for COVID-19 and are directed toward treatment of the two phases of infection and inflammation that influence the pathogenesis of COVID-19. An important resource for the allergist/immunologist is the COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel (COVID-19 TGP), a National Institutes of Health sponsored panel of U.S. physicians, statisticians, and other experts, which has developed a set of continuously updated treatment guidelines intended for clinicians caring for patients during the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic.


COVID-19 is unique among other infectious diseases because, in many cases, the host immune inflammatory response can cause greater harm to the individual who is infected than the pathogen itself. In this report, the pathogenesis of COVID-19 and the influence it has on COVID-19 presentations is reviewed, together with recommended potential therapeutic targets and treatment recommendations.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: From the Department of Pediatrics and Microbiology-Immunology; and International Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Immunology, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, D.C.

Publication date: November 1, 2020

This article was made available online on August 14, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "The role of the allergist/immunologist in the COVID-19 pandemic: A Janus-faced presentation".

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  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma and by having the potential to directly impact the quality of patient care. AAP welcomes the submission of original works including peer-reviewed original research and clinical trial results. Additionally, as the official journal of the Eastern Allergy Conference (EAC), AAP will publish content from EAC poster sessions as well as review articles derived from EAC lectures.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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