Coronavirus (COVID-19): What do myeloma patients need to know?

In this week’s video, Dr. Durie discusses the impact of the coronavirus on multiple myeloma patients, and how to stay up-to-date on the latest news.

It is important to avoid exposure. Contact your doctor immediately should you develop symptoms such as fever, dry cough, or tiredness.

If you have a question that you’d like to suggest for a future episode of Ask Dr. Durie, please submit it to [email protected]

To reach the IMF InfoLine Coordinators, please call 800.452.2873 or email them at [email protected]

The IMF recommends you stay up-to-date on containment efforts for the coronavirus by following the Centers for Disease Control guidelines here, as well as guidelines outlined by the World Health organization here.


This week’s “Ask Dr. Durie'' is about the coronavirus. There has been a lot of concern about this novel COVID-19 coronavirus. Based on the initial experience in China, there has been a lot of anxiety about how potentially dangerous this virus can be.
The most important thing for the myeloma patient to be aware of is that this virus can have serious effects in individuals who have a compromised immune system, who are more elderly, for some reason, there is more impact, a negative impact in men versus women, which we don’t understand yet. There is also more of an impact in individuals who have other medical issues going on.
And so, what are the symptoms of infection with this novel coronavirus? Well, the key things to be aware of are that 90-percent of patients have significant fever, 70-percent have had a dry cough, 30-percent have had tiredness or just a general malaise. Very patients have had a runny nose or things that would make you think about either a cold or the flu, 4-percent. And so, it is possible for doctors and healthcare providers to rapidly distinguish between someone who might have the coronavirus infection versus a regular cold or flu.  
And so, what is recommended for patients? Well, the key thing is to avoid exposure. This is not a virus that you want to come in contact with if at all possible.
Let me identify four broad areas where it’s important. First of all, what has become a new mantra, social distancing, to stay a respectful distance from others who might potentially be infected. In my recent blog, I suggested tapping elbows or the tips of your shoes, but definitely avoid handshakes. One should definitely reduce, or limit, travel of all types, especially on planes. It’s recommended that you clean surfaces that you’re coming in contact with where there could be a concern about prior exposure. 

And then of course, with information updated and changing so rapidly, it’s extremely important to stay up to date. And, in my blogs and on the myeloma, website, we’ve given a lot of contacts where the updated information is available.

And so, BOTTOM LINE, it is extremely important to avoid exposure, and follow the guidance that I’m giving you here and that is more broadly available in the various links that I have provided. If you should happen to develop any symptoms like fever, cough, tiredness or malaise, please contact your doctor or a medical professional as soon as possible, also, if you have any concerns about the possibility of having been exposed. So, please stay alert and, with the proper precautions, it is feasible to avoid contact that is of the greatest concern.

Image of Dr. Brian G.M. DurieDr. Brian G.M. Durie serves as Chairman of the International Myeloma Foundation and serves on its Scientific Advisory Board. Additionally, he is Chairman of the IMF's International Myeloma Working Group, a consortium of nearly 200 myeloma experts from around the world. Dr. Durie also leads the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative®.


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