COVID-19 FAQ #22: Have the safety recommendations changed for myeloma patients?

In this COVID-19 FAQ episode, Dr. Brian G.M. Durie discusses the current healthy and safety recommendations and how multiple myeloma patients can reduce their risk of coronavirus exposure.


Continue to practice strict safety guidelines. Wear a mask when in public settings. Insist those around you wear masks. Practice regular handwashing as well as physical distancing.

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Videos in the COVID-19 Series


This week’s “Ask Dr. Durie” comes from a number of patients who have head the different advice of these three or four months about how to protect in this time of the COVID crisis. And, they want to know, as we’re heading into the fall season into August and September, has the advice changed? Are we still sticking with the same recommendations that we have been putting into place over these last two, three, four months?     

And actually, the recommendations have not changed that much. The main unfortunate difference is that here in July, heading into August, there are quite a number of hot spots of COVID-19 infection across the country. There are areas of infection in Florida, in Texas, in Arizona, in California, a number of different states have higher levels of infection in the community. And, this means that any activity that takes a myeloma patient out into the community carries a higher risk. 

And so, the big difference right now is to be very, very alert in terms of what is going on in your community, what is the level of infection? Because, then it is much more important to take precautions at a high level.  

But, the basic precautions themselves have really not changed. The first thing is that you should wear a mask, and that you should insist that people that you’re coming in touch with are wearing masks. So, this is tremendously important number one.  
Number two, you do need to avoid large groups of any kind. And so, people say, “well, what is a large group?” Well, a large group is anything beyond five or ten people. And, you’re particularly to be concerned about a group that includes people that you do not know who may have been out in the community and you don’t know where they’ve been, who they are, and whether or not they might be asymptomatic with an infection. And so, very, very important to avoid groups of people, particularly including individuals that you are not normally in contact with.  

The additional thing is that in addition to having your mask, you should always physically distance, try to maintain your distance, that six feet number is important. And also, if you are out and about, be aware that any risk of infection is very much linked to, what we call, the time of exposure and dose. And so, if you briefly have to pass close to someone or someplace that could be a risk factor, if it’s just a very, very brief thing, then that is a very low risk.  

And then, obviously, whenever you’re out and about, it’s important to maintain good hygiene, make sure high-touch surfaces are cleaned regularly, and regular hand washing whenever you’re out and about and doing things. Many times during the day, make sure that you are washing your hands.  

And so, the broad answer to this question is that, sad to say, not a whole lot has changed in a positive fashion in these last few months. We’re still faced with a significant level of COVID-19 infection in the community and myeloma patients very much want to avoid getting exposed, to avoid getting this troublesome infection. And so, stay safe, use these precautions and do the very, very best to avoid possible exposure.  



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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