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Coronavirus in Context: The Role of Cytokine Storm in COVID-19

May 08, 2020

WebMD's Chief Medical Officer, John Whyte, MD, MPH, talks with Maximilian F. Konig, MD, from the Division of Rheumatology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 

In this series, WebMD's Chief Medical Officer interviews the nation’s top experts to get answers for the big coronavirus questions that are top of mind for all of us.


  • Cytokines are proteins normally released by the immune system but, in some people, this reaction goes into overdrive, causing dangerous organ inflammation.
  • Cytokine storm is being increasingly reported in COVID-19 patients several weeks after the initial infection and is linked to many deaths.
  • Cytokine storm is similar to the immune response seen in people with Still's disease, a type of arthritis.
  • Several anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat arthritis are being investigated as possible treatments for COVID-19.
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