3 April 2020:
It is with great sadness that we advise that Professor Andrew Kemp AM passed away at the age of 77 years, on Friday 3rd April 2020. He will be dearly missed and on behalf of ASCIA we send condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.
Professor Kemp was well recognised for his significant contributions to clinical practice and research into paediatric allergic disease. He held several key, pro bono positions within the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA). These include membership on the ASCIA Council, Chairing of the ASCIA Paediatric Committee and membership of the ASCIA Anaphylaxis Committee. In these roles, he was involved in the development of several important ASCIA documents that are still used throughout Australia and New Zealand. These include ASCIA Action Plans for Anaphylaxis, ASCIA Guidelines for adrenaline (epinephrine) prescription and ASCIA food allergen challenge protocols.
Professor Kemp also made substantial contributions to the specialty of clinical immunology and allergy, by ensuring excellence in the training, supervision and examination of specialist junior doctors whilst training to obtain specialist recognition. Together with his mentoring of paediatric clinical immunology/allergy specialists, this has resulted in a new generation of specialists who have been involved in significant advances in clinical practice and research into paediatric allergic disease, particularly in the area of food allergy and allergy prevention. He was also a constant and vocal advocate for the safe and rational use of therapeutics and for excellence in all aspects of clinical care.
In recognition of his considerable contributions to medicine, Professor Andrew Kemp was named on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2018 as a Member (AM) in the General Division, for his significant service to medicine, and to medical education, in the field of paediatric allergy and immunology as a clinician, academic and researcher.
24 March 2020:
ASCIA COVID-19 website updates
The ASCIA COVID-19 webpage www.allergy.org.au/members/covid-19 is reviewed on a daily basis and updated as required.
The latest updates are as follows:
- The ASCIA 2020 Conference has been postponed to September 2021. This will be the first time in 30 years that an ASCIA Annual Conference has been postponed, but ASCIA believes it is the best action to take, to ensure the health and wellbeing of the community. For details go to www.allergy.org.au/members/covid-19#cd1 ASCIA has also postponed the TAPID meeting from May 2020 to May 2021.
- Updated actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the ASCIA FAQ www.allergy.org.au/members/covid-19#cd2 reflect the latest government advice and restrictions, including those announced by Australian governments this week. To comply with government advice, ASCIA staff will all work from home from 24th March 2020 onwards. All ASCIA education projects will continue to progress, as it is now more important than ever for ASCIA to ensure that its online training and educational resources are up to date, to enable health professionals and the community to access accurate, consistent and evidence-based information.
- ASCIA COVID-19 FAQ have been updated www.allergy.org.au/members/covid-19#cd2 to clarify that most people with allergic conditions, including asthma, are not immunocompromised. However, even if you are not immunocompromised it is vital that everyone follows government advice, including the restrictions announced by Australian governments this week, to reduce the spread of COVID-19. To enable ASCIA to develop and update information relating to people who are immunocompromised due to immunodeficiency or immunosuppression, a new ASCIA COVID-19 Working Party has been formed.
- Updated information about telehealth www.allergy.org.au/members/covid-19#cd4 has been included. Doctors, nurses and other health professionals are an essential workforce. Providing telehealth services for consultations will help to keep health professionals well, protect the health of patients and reduce the spread of COVID-19. The government has announced this week that it is working on further expanding telehealth for all patients. Further expansion is supported by ASCIA and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) who have issued a media release this week www.racp.edu.au/news-and-events/media-releases/physicians-welcome-expansion-of-telehealth/ Other medical practitioners have initiated a petition which you may wish to sign, to support the expansion of telehealth for all patients: www.change.org/p/scott-morrison-no-restrictions-on-telehealth-consultations-now
- Information about medical product supply www.allergy.org.au/members/covid-19#cd5 has been added to this webpage. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak many suppliers of medical products are working to ensure the continuity of supply to patients in Australia and New Zealand, whilst also protecting the health of their employees. ASCIA is monitoring the situation and will post notices from suppliers on this page to keep ASCIA members updated.
Updated actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19
- Hand hygiene is the top priority. Regular and thorough hand washing with soap and water throughout the day, particularly after using the bathroom and before eating is vital for preventing infections. Alcohol-based hand-gel can be used to sanitise hands when soap and water isn’t available. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Also avoid shaking hands or any other greeting that involves contact.
- Respiratory hygiene is also a priority. This involves covering the mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing, then disposing of the used tissue immediately. It is also important to maintain at least a 1.5 metre distance away from anyone, especially if they cough or sneeze.
- Stay home if you are unwell or if you have recently travelled. If anyone has a fever, cough or breathing difficulty, they should stay home, seek medical attention (call in advance), and follow the local health authority instructions. Self-isolation is required if contact has been made with someone with COVID-19 symptoms, or symptoms develop following contact with someone who has COVID-19. Quarantine of 14 days is required for people who have travelled, even if they do not feel unwell.
- Follow government advice and restrictions. It is important that everyone complies with government advice and restrictions, which include the actions listed above, in addition to not travelling (except for essential workers), and physical/social distancing measures. Examples of these measures are working from home where possible, avoiding any gatherings and temporary partial or full closures of most hospitality businesses.
23 March 2020:
ASCIA has closely monitored the COVID-19 outbreak in relation to the ASCIA 2020 Conference, which was scheduled for the first week of September 2020 in Melbourne.
Given that the situation has rapidly evolved in Australia and New Zealand, we have decided to postpone the ASCIA Conference until September 2021, at the Melbourne Convention Centre.
The new dates will be Wednesday 1st to 3rd September 2021 for the ASCIA Conference, with the CFAR Symposium on 31st August 2021 and the ANZVASC meeting on Saturday 4th September 2021.
All of the work that has already been done in planning for the ASCIA Conference, CFAR and ANZVASC will be transferred to 2021, including the exhibition and sponsorship, which will be rolled over until then.
This will be the first time in 30 years that an ASCIA Annual Conference has been postponed, but ASCIA believes it is the best action to take, to ensure the health and wellbeing of the community.
16 March 2020:
In response to the COVID-19 infectious respiratory disease outbreak caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus, ASCIA has developed a number of resources, including a new open access ASCIA webpage dedicated to COVID-19 information. The situation regarding COVID-19 is rapidly changing so the content of the webpage www.allergy.org.au/members/covid-19 is regularly reviewed and updated. It includes links to the following information:
COVID-19 and the ASCIA 2020 Conference | ASCIA COVID-19 FAQ and other Resources | Further Information, News and Publications | COVID-19 and Telehealth
COVID-19 and the ASCIA 2020 Conference
ASCIA is closely monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak in relation to the ASCIA 2020 Conference, scheduled for the first week of September 2020 in Melbourne. Given the rapidly evolving situation in Australia and New Zealand, registrations will be deferred until May 2020 at this stage. ASCIA will take every necessary step to take care of the health and wellbeing of the community, and will continue to provide regular updates as circumstances evolve. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.
ASCIA COVID-19 FAQ and other Resources
ASCIA has developed the following information for patients, which is available on the ASCIA COVID-19 webpage www.allergy.org.au/members/covid-19 :
- COVID-19 and Immunodeficiency
- Checklist: Actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19
- COVID-19 Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
COVID-19, Immunodeficiency and Immunosuppression
There is currently limited information available about COVID-19, immunodeficiency and immunosuppression. To expand knowledge in this area and improve patient care, ASCIA is involved in the following initiatives:
- An ASCIA COVID-19 Working Party will be set up to focus on developing resources for health professionals and the community on COVID-19, immunodeficiency and immunosuppression.
- ASCIA members will be invited to participate in online webinars, discussion forums and an International Union of Immunological Societies (IUIS) survey on COVID-19, immunodeficiency and immunosuppression.
12 March 2020:
ASCIA has developed the following resources in response to the COVID-19 infectious respiratory disease outbreak caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus, which are available open access on the ASCIA COVID-19 webpage https://www.allergy.org.au/members/covid-19:
- Information about COVID-19 for people with primary and secondary immunodeficiencies.
- Checklist of actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
- FAQ (frequently asked questions and answers) about COVID-19.
The situation regarding COVID-19 is rapidly changing, so it is important to check the ASCIA website https://www.allergy.org.au/members/covid-19 for updated resources and further information.
9 March 2020:
Mylan Australia has advised that despite there being sufficient supply of EpiPen®. unprecedented, disproportionate demand has meant that some pharmacies are experiencing supply delays and are seeing stock outages at some wholesalers,
To ensure equitable distribution of EpiPen® nationally, Mylan has commenced controlled supply to pharmacies. Pharmacies now need to call the Mylan EpiPen Customer Service hotline on 1800 931 625 to place an order for EpiPen®. Only orders placed by pharmacies via Mylan will be processed and stock will still be delivered to pharmacies via wholesalers.
For regular updates about adrenaline autoinjector supply go to www.allergy.org.au/members/adrenaline-autoinjector-availability
9th March 2020:
There is currently limited stock of Hymenoptera® Honey Bee venom in Australia and New Zealand. This is due to critical manufacturing issues at Jubilant HollisterStier LLC, which negatively impacts their ability to ship venoms outside of the USA in the short term. A further update on supply will be available in April 2020.
Stock of Paper Wasp and Yellow Jacket venom is not currently limited in Australia and New Zealand.
Due to the limited stock of Hymenoptera® Honey Bee venom it is recommended that commencement of Honey Bee venom immunotherapy in new patients is delayed until continuation of venom supply is assured. Completion of Honey Bee venom immunotherapy may be considered in lower-risk patients who have completed three years of maintenance therapy, instead of continuing for five years.
For orders please contact Stallergenes Greer directly – for contact details go to www.allergy.org.au/members/insect-allergy
4 March 2020:
Oral immunotherapy (OIT) is a potential treatment for food allergy. It involves giving gradually increasing amounts of food allergen under medical supervision and continued daily consumption of the food allergen. If the goal of desensitisation is reached, there is a temporary increase in the amount of food allergen that can be consumed before an allergic reaction occurs.
OIT is an emerging treatment, and there are no OIT products for food allergies registered by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in Australia or Medsafe in New Zealand. One OIT product for peanut allergy (PalforziaTM developed by the company Aimmune Therapeutics) has received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for use in the USA in 2020.
ASCIA OIT for food allergy information for patients, consumers and carers has been updated and is now available on the ASCIA website www.allergy.org.au/patients/allergy-treatment/oral-immunotherapy-for-food-allergy
The main updates include:
It is important to note that current OIT methods are not a cure for food allergy. There are concerns about potential harm of OIT for food allergy outweighing the benefits in some people with severe food allergy, as well as considerable cost implications. This applies to OIT products that are registered as well as OIT used in clinical trials.
The benefits and harms of different forms of OIT are still being studied in clinical trials in Australia and globally. More data needs to be collected about safety, tolerability, cost-effectiveness, quality of life and long term outcomes.