Coronavirus Social: FDA Pleas for Help,
Consult, Comics

Liz Neporent

March 23, 2020

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

With social distancing now the norm in most parts of the world, clinicians are connecting more than ever through their social media channels. Coronavirus crowdsourcing, an FDA official's tweet, and a thank you to doctors and nurses from international cartoon artists are three of the stories currently resonating with the medical world on various social media channels.

FDA Sends a Twitter Plea for Supplies

In an unusual move, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken to Twitter to ask for information about shortages in coronavirus testing supplies.

"@US_FDA suggests companies make public their inventory, production schedule, and a hotline number to address questions regarding availability of reagents and other supplies needed for #COVID19 testing. If you have an allocation plan to maximize efficient testing, please post." Anand Shad, MD, FDA's deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs, tweeted late last week.

The agency is seeking to track swabs, transport media, extraction reagents, controls, PCR reagents, test kits, and instruments, Shad said in an additional tweet where he tagged the @FDADeviceInfo account.

The FDA requires drugmakers to report shortages, but under current laws it cannot ask the same of device manufacturers. This has made it challenging for the government to identify gaps in the supply chain for testing.

Both the current administration and Congress are considering laws that would require device-makers to alert the FDA about significant disruptions to essential products and file regular reports on manufacturing capacity. But with the coronavirus crisis in full swing, legislation seems unlikely in the near term. For now, Twitter may be the quickest way for the FDA to get the information they need.

Consult Sees Its First Coronavirus Case

Medscape's Consult medical case sharing app posted its first confirmed diagnosis of coronavirus today. A physician from the United Kingdom contributed three images of a 43-year-old Italian male patient with a classic progression from pre-infection to severe COVID-19 in the lungs.

In the first chest x-ray taken 3 months ago, the lung fields are relatively clear. In the second film, taken on the day of diagnosis, signs of a pneumonia-like infection are apparent. The last x-ray, taken on day 3, shows a typical presentation of the COVID-19 infection with ground glass opacities in both fields. The patient is currently on a ventilator, according to the physician.

The Consult peer-to-peer platform is open to physicians and US medical students to share cases, discuss medical topics, and ask questions of one another. The free app has over 700,000 members.

Jessa Netting, Consult's managing editor, told Medscape Medical News that she expects to see a growing number of coronavirus cases appear on Consult as physicians search for reliable, efficient ways to exchange information about diagnosis and treatment.

"We encourage physicians to keep posting their own experiences and share their knowledge on what they are seeing in the field as a way of educating and supporting each other," Netting said.

A Big Cartoon Thank You to Clinicians

Healthcare professionals who put their lives on the line for their patients are being hailed as the true heroes of the coronavirus pandemic. A group of international cartoonists has sent them a big social media shoutout.

An image tweeted out by the group Cartooning for Peace depicts doctors, nurses, and other medical clinicians as comic book-style super heroes and another shows a doctor straining to holding the entire Earth on his shoulders.

Cartooning for Peace invites all its members to fight collectively against the coronavirus pandemic by publishing their cartoons on social networks with the hashtags #cartooningforsolidarity, #coronavirus, and #cartooningforpeace, a group spokesperson told Medscape Medical News.

Daily contributions from its 203-member press cartoonists, from 67 countries around the world, try to offer a plurality of perspectives on international current events, she added. Both cartoons were drawn by the Algerian cartoon artist,
le HIC.

Liz Neporent is Medscape's executive editor of social media and community. She has previously worked at ABC News National as well as other major news outlets. She's based in New York City and can be reached at or @lizzyfit on Twitter.

For more news, follow Medscape on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.
Post as: