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Coda Cure: Conversation 3

The global burden of sepsis continues to challenge clinicians in its definition, diagnosis and treatment. The current COVID-19 pandemic seems to have almost taken our understanding of the Sepsis Syndrome back decades. What are the similarities between the current pandemic and sepsis? And what can we learn?

We have never avoided healthy controversy, and in this episode Simon Finfer puts the case that the multi-organ dysfunction and cytokine storm seen in critically ill COVID-19 infected patients is analogous to the conventional Sepsis Syndrome and ARDS.

Perhaps if we consider the current pandemic through a Sepsis lens, we can avoid making the same mistakes that we have made in Sepsis research for decades resulting in no licenced treatments for the Sepsis Syndrome.

Derek Angus agrees but makes the case that there are two distinct differences. Firstly, that the endothelial dysfunction appears different in COVID-19; and secondly, unlike sepsis in the case of COVID-19, the pathogen itself proceeds unabated by any currently proven treatment. This means we need a two pronged approach in COVID-19 research:

1: Strategies purely aimed at combating the virus

2: Strategies aimed at applying Sepsis lessons to the pandemic response.

This episode is brought to you by MSD

Simon Finfer

Simon Finfer is a Pom who emigrated to Australia in 1993 to practice full time intensive care medicine. Despite being qualified 37 years and receiving a small NHS pension he still works as a bedside clinician and takes night calls. He loves his job because he works with fantastic people. He also designs and runs large clinical trials, writes papers and edits books. His current mission is to reduce the global burden of sepsis to which end he sits on the Board of the Global Sepsis Alliance, the Council of the International Sepsis Forum and established both the Australian Sepsis Network and the Asia Pacific Sepsis Alliance. He is a Professorial Fellow at The George Institute for Global Health and the Institute’s focus on equity and improving the health of underserved populations in both rich and poor countries aligns perfectly with his and with CODA. Simon lives on the outskirts of Sydney with his wife, sons, three horses, four chickens, three ducks and one dog.

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