Applying the Lessons Learned From Coronavirus Disease 2019 to Improve Pneumonia Management

Grant W. Waterer


Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2021;34(2):175-179. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Purpose of Review: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has produced an extraordinary amount of literature in a short time period. This review focuses on what the new literature has provided in terms of more general information about the management of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP).

Recent Findings: Measures taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have caused a significant drop in influenza worldwide. Improvements in imaging, especially ultrasound, and especially in the application of rapid molecular diagnosis are likely to have significant impact on the management of CAP. Therapeutic advances are so far limited.

Summary: COVID-19 has taught us that we can do far more to prevent seasonal influenza and its associated mortality, morbidity and economic cost. Improvements in imaging and pathogen diagnosis are welcome, as is the potential for secondary benefits of anti-COVID-19 therapies that may have reach effect on respiratory viruses other than severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. As community-transmission is likely to persist for many years, recognition and treatment of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 will need to be incorporated into CAP guidelines moving forward.


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has generated more clinical interest and research into pulmonary infection than could possibly be imagined 12 months ago. The volume of academic articles in 2020 on COVID will probably exceed the total volume of articles on pneumonia in the past decade (as of October 15 PubMed has >65 000 results for COVID-19 and 78 000 results for pneumonia in the past 10 years). To date the COVID-19 research has mostly highlighted how little we have known about viral pneumonia and how few weapons we have in the armoury to counter it. While we hope there will be significant breakthroughs in antiviral therapies and antiviral vaccines these are yet to come to fruition. However, COVID-19 has already either taught us about or refocused our attention on key issues in prevention, diagnosis, infection control and nonanti-viral/antibiotic supportive management of patients with pneumonia. While a lot of the research literature on COVID-19 is not of high quality, the speed at which collaborative, national or multinational collaborations have been put together and completed excellent research trials also offers significant hope for pneumonia research in the post-COVID-19 world.