Developing Treatment Guidelines During a Pandemic Health Crisis: Lessons Learned From COVID-19.


The development of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines began in March 2020 in response to a request from the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Within 4 days of the request, the NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel was established and the first meeting took place (virtually-as did subsequent meetings). The Panel comprises 57 individuals representing 6 governmental agencies, 11 professional societies, and 33 medical centers, plus 2 community members, who have worked together to create and frequently update the guidelines on the basis of evidence from the most recent clinical studies available. The initial version of the guidelines was completed within 2 weeks and posted online on 21 April 2020. Initially, sparse evidence was available to guide COVID-19 treatment recommendations. However, treatment data rapidly accrued based on results from clinical studies that used various study designs and evaluated different therapeutic agents and approaches. Data have continued to evolve at a rapid pace, leading to 24 revisions and updates of the guidelines in the first year. This process has provided important lessons for responding to an unprecedented public health emergency: Providers and stakeholders are eager to access credible, current treatment guidelines; governmental agencies, professional societies, and health care leaders can work together effectively and expeditiously; panelists from various disciplines, including biostatistics, are important for quickly developing well-informed recommendations; well-powered randomized clinical trials continue to provide the most compelling evidence to guide treatment recommendations; treatment recommendations need to be developed in a confidential setting free from external pressures; development of a user-friendly, web-based format for communicating with health care providers requires substantial administrative support; and frequent updates are necessary as clinical evidence rapidly emerges.





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Publication Info

Kuriakose, Safia, Kanal Singh, Alice K Pau, Eric Daar, Rajesh Gandhi, Pablo Tebas, Laura Evans, Roy M Gulick, et al. (2021). Developing Treatment Guidelines During a Pandemic Health Crisis: Lessons Learned From COVID-19. Annals of internal medicine, 174(8). pp. 1151–1158. 10.7326/m21-1647 Retrieved from

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Brenna L Hughes

Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Susanna Naggie

Professor of Medicine

Dr. Susanna Naggie completed her undergraduate degrees in chemical engineering and biochemistry at the University of Maryland, College Park, and her medical education at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She conducted her internal medicine and infectious diseases fellowship training at Duke University Medical Center, where she also served as Chief Resident. She joined the faculty in the Duke School of Medicine in 2009. She is a Professor of Medicine and currently holds appointments at the Duke University School of Medicine, at the Duke Clinical Research Institute, and at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr. Naggie is a clinical investigator with a focus in clinical trials in infectious diseases and translational research in HIV and liver disease. She is a standing member of the DHHS Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents and the CDC/NIH/IDSA-HIVMA Opportunistic Infections Guideline. She is the Vice Dean for Clinical and Translational Research and Director for the Duke Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.

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