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COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance (GRA)

Previous posts on Arthritis Broadcast Network (ABN) have outlined how people with autoimmune forms of arthritis may be more vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic and have also emphasized the importance of searching for evidence-based information at this time. The global rheumatology community has joined forces to address these issues – on March 12, 2020 the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance (GRA) was formed.

Global Rheumatology Alliance Graphic

RheumNow posted a feature article on the GRA stating, “realizing that there is an unprecedented and urgent need for data for patients and rheumatologists, the goal of the Global Rheumatology Alliance (GRA) is to develop and rapidly deploy an open physician driven registry for patients with autoimmune and inflammatory conditions with COVID-19 infection.” In other words, the registry created by the Alliance will compile data on patients with rheumatic diseases who have contracted COVID-19; the registry will be secure and anonymized. Collection and analysis of this data will help doctors to understand the impact of the virus on this population and determine best practices for rheumatology during this time period.

As you may know, some anecdotal evidence has recently emerged on the use of hydroxychloroquine, a common medication used in inflammatory arthritis, as a form of treatment for COVID-19. There is currently not enough evidence to support this claim. Sub-groups of the GRA will be investigating it further and also assessing the role of other rheumatic medications as treatment for the virus.

The GRA has been endorsed by important bodies of knowledge in arthritis such as the American College of Rheumatology and the European League Against Rheumatism.

Who is involved in the GRA?

The initiative is being led by Dr. Philip Robinson, clinical and academic rheumatologist at the Royal Brisbane hospital in Australia, and Dr. Jinoos Yazdany, Chief of Rheumatology at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Endowed Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

The GRA has been rapidly expanding since its formation on March 12th. Currently, it is comprised of nearly 300 members including rheumatologists, epidemiologists, immunologists, and patient representatives from across the globe. One of these patient representatives is Cheryl Koehn, Founder and President of Arthritis Consumer Experts , who is actively involved in this initiative.

“The work of the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance is not only hugely important now, it will generate knowledge for our patient population for decades to come,” says Koehn. “The data collected by the Alliance will help answer many of the questions patients around the world are asking: What happens if I get the virus? Do I have to stop my therapies and for how long? We are really encouraging Canadian rheumatologists to enroll their patients into the registry.”

ACE will be publishing information collected by the GRA as it becomes available. For real time updates, consider following these social media accounts: