We are receiving many requests to suggest any special precautions for us, CLL patients, in response to the spreading risk of coronavirus (COVID-19).
First, this is an evolving situation with more unknowns than knowns at the present time.
Second, it does appear that those over 60 years old are at increased risk for a more serious infection. That would include many of us CLL-ers.
Next, those who are immune suppressed (and all CLL patients, whether treated or not, are immune suppressed) are at a higher risk for serious disease, but perhaps there is less of an increased risk for us than for those with heart or lung conditions. There is almost no data out there to provide clarity on this important issue.
There is also no clarity as to whether we are at higher risk to acquire the infection, only that we are more likely to have a rough time if we do get it. So far it does not appear that we are at higher risk to become infected, but again there is just too little information to be certain at this time.
The prudent course of action is to follow the CDC and WHO guidelines that, besides hand washing, elbow bumps, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces, and more, now the CDC advises high risk folks like us to avoid travel and crowds. This was a change as of March 5, 2020.
In a proactive and cautionary move, the CLL Society canceled all Support Group meetings and Patient Educational Forums scheduled for March. Soon after announcing this, LLS and LRF canceled meetings as well.
For general information from the CDC, please see: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html and for high-risk populations, including CLL patients, see: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.htmlI myself have canceled 2 trips for CLL-related education this month.
The CLL Society is closely monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak and will provide updates through the website, and will, when appropriate, through our email list, as soon as more information becomes available. Rather than sending individual emails with your questions, please sign up for our Alerts and check the website for the latest COVID-19 news.
This too will pass.
We are all in this together.
Brian Koffman MDCM (retired), MS Ed
Co-Founder, Executive VP and Chief Medical Officer
CLL Society, Inc.
PO Box 1390
Claremont, CA 91711