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Kulagin A. D. (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Wagemaker G. (Rotterdam, Netherlands)
Zander A. R. (Hamburg, Germany)
Fehse B. (Hamburg, Germany)
Chukhlovin A. B. (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Aleynikova O. V. (Minsk, Belarus)
Borset M. (Trondheim, Norway)
Chechetkin A. V. (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Fibbe W. (Leiden, Netherlands)
Gale R. P. (Los Angeles, USA)
Galibin O. V. (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Hehlmann R. (Mannheim, Germany)
Hölzer D. (Frankfurt a.M., Germany)
Klimko N. N. (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Kolb H.-J. (München, Germany)
Kröger N. (Hamburg, Germany)
Lange C. (Hamburg, Germany)
Mamaev N. N. (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Mikhailova N. B. (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Moiseev I. S. (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Nagler A. (Tel-Aviv, Israel)
Nemkov A. S. (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Paramonov I. V. (Kirov, Russia)
Roumiantsev A. G. (Moscow, Russia)
Savchenko V. G. (Moscow, Russia)
Smirnov A. V. (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Uss A. L. (Minsk, Belarus)
Zubarovskaya L. S. (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Dear CTT authors and readers,
The continuing COVID-19 pandemia presents great challenges to hemato-oncological and BMT clinics worldwide.
Like our colleagues in Western and Eastern World, we have encountered the new coronavirus infection in March 2020, thus requiring a variety of urgent epidemiological measures and early diagnostics of SARS-CoV-2-infected persons, involving our clinical staff and the patients admitted or those, who were on the waiting list. To this purpose, a countrywide training of medical staff was urgently performed, according to the temporary Guidelines from Russian Health Ministry (with later amendments), thus providing a uniform strategy to combat the epidemics in St. Petersburg and in dozens hematological clinics all over the country, and creating a basis for training of our doctors, nurses and relatives of the patients in this items.
Huge problems initially arised for our epidemiologists, clinical infectologists and laboratory staff who resolved appropriate organizational and educational tasks. Within several weeks, first native PCR kits for SARS-CoV2 were approved by the central surveillance authorities, their number then extended to >30 PCR test systems widely used by the network of clinical laboratories throughout Russia. About 2 months were sufficient to develop tests for detection of IgM and IgG antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in recovered patients.
Hence, within several weeks, the infrastructure of oncohematological clinics and related clinical departments was adapted for diagnostics, isolation and observation of SARS-CoV-2-infected persons, as well as special prophylactic measures to prevent further spread of infection. In our specific setting, we were obliged to arrange ‘red’ (wards) for patients with COVID-19, with special regimen of their handling and care.
Аnother crucial problem was to adapt intensive care units for management of severe patients following chemotherapy and HSCT, and to expand diagnostic facilities at the University Department of Microbiology which worked at their extreme limits with PCR testing of the virus and antibody diagnostics over last year.
Isolation of immunocompromised patients at our clinics became extremely strict. The infected patients were displaced to the COVID hospital at our University, thus presenting a favorable opportunity to our transplantation clinics.
To minimize epidemiological risks, we were obliged to delay intensive treatment for infected patients with leukemias and lymphomas undergoing HSCT. At longer periods, the scheduled follow-up of the patients was required, however, distant counseling was arranged, if possible.
In the frames of post-COVID and post-transplant rehabilitation, clinical psychologists should support both patients, their relatives and clinicians employed in the “red” areas.
COVID vaccination is another unresolved issue, which should be considered. The existing vaccines are not yet studied for appropriate safety and specific protective ability in cancer patients, especially, in pediatric immunocompromised cohorts subjected to cytostatic and immunosuppressive therapies.
While making our efforts, we are much appreciated to international authorities, and leading medical journals, which shared their indispensable experience in this field, hoping for further multicentric studies on this issues. Of course, it is too soon to make some definite conclusions on COVID-19 impact on clinical course and outcomes in our patients. The effects of past COVID-19 upon overall and event-free survival require long-term follow-up, and, at least, several years are required to summarize these data with our colleages worldwide.
In any case, we invite our present and future authors to submit to Cellular Therapy and Transplantation their studies about specific aspects of COVID-19 infection in oncohematology and stem cell transplantation clinics.
Professor Alexander D. Kulagin, Editor-in-Chief, Cellular Therapy and Transplantation Journal
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