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Letter from the Editor

Prof. Richard Dekhuijzen, Radboud University Medical Center, the Netherlands
ERS 2021


Dear Readers,


As expected, the ERS of 2021 was held online, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Again, numerous speakers were able to present the most recent updates in important areas of pulmonary diseases. Some of these studies and findings are highlighted below.

Interpretation of a negative SARS-CoV-2 PCR test can be difficult due to its lower sensitivity. COVID-19-suspected patients with increased inflammation markers were at increased risk of a first false-negative PCR test. The diagnosis should therefore not only rely on PCR test results, but also on inflammatory markers, such as platelet counts and CRP, clinical presentation, and findings from other tests, such as a chest CT scan.

Months after infection with SARS-CoV-2, some patients are still suffering from fatigue. In a recent study, severe fatigue negatively correlated with disease severity. Even patients with mild symptoms showed fatigue up to 10 months after initial infection.

Contrary to the current believe that only the elderly are at high risk for COVID-19, significant morbidity was seen in younger patients. While heart disease could be considered as a baseline risk factor, hypoxemia, LDH, and lymphocyte count were predictors of poor evolution. In contrast, anosmia and chest pain were associated with a better prognosis.

Intensive livestock production has been associated with health risks. Exposure to livestock farm emissions may lead to poor outcomes. Recent data showed that residential exposure to livestock-emitted endotoxin was linked to increased species richness in COPD patients.

Infants of mothers who are exposed to higher air pollution during pregnancy may have reduced lung function development. Significant negative associations during the second trimester of pregnancy were found between air pollution and postnatal lung function. Preterm infants showed significant higher susceptibility to air pollution exposure, leading to impaired postnatal lung function.

Biomarkers are key to understanding asthma phenotypes and may help in distinguishing patient subgroups to guide therapeutic strategies. In the NOVELTY study, markers such as blood eosinophils, fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO), and atopy history did not distinguish severe asthma from severe uncontrolled asthma.

This report outlines the most significant advancements discussed at the ERS conference. So, we hope that you will enjoy reading this Conference Report!

Stay healthy and kind regards,

Prof. Richard Dekhuijzen

Prof. P.N. Richard Dekhuijzen is Professor of Pulmonology at the Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. His specific area of clinical and research interest includes asthma, COPD, and inhalation technology. He studied medicine at VU Amsterdam and completed his training in pulmonology at the Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis in Amsterdam and in the Academic Hospital Nijmegen. In 1989, he finished his PhD thesis on training of the respiratory muscles in COPD, followed by a PhD thesis on steroid induced myopathy of the diaphragm in 1994 at the Catholic University Leuven (Belgium). He is author/co-author of over 330 peer-reviewed papers and many textbook chapters on respiratory medicine. From 2008-2010, he was Head of the Cardiology Department at Radboudumc. Until 2016, he chaired the Department of Pulmonary Diseases, the Heart-Lung Centre Nijmegen, and the Medical Staff at Radboudumc. He is the scientific chair of the Aerosol Drug Management Improvement Team (ADMIT) and chair of the Dutch Inhalation Technology Working Group. Currently, he is chair of the Medical Ethical Committee of the Radboudumc.

Conflict of Interest Statement:

In the last 3 years, Richard Dekhuijzen and/or his department received research grants, unrestricted educational grants, and/or fees for lectures and advisory board meetings from AstraZeneca, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Chiesi, GSK, Mundipharma, Novartis, Sandoz, Teva, and Zambon.

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