With recent media reports of pulmonary fibrosis (PF) arising from COVID-19, the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) released a brief statement on April 6, 2020 to clarify the difference between PF and fibrosis from  acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) stemming from COVID-19.*  

Different Kinds of Fibrosis

The PFF’s statement discussed the difference between lung fibrosis (scarring) from ILD, such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), and fibrosis from COVID-19.

  • Coronavirus COVID-19 infection may advance to pneumonia and ARDS, which requires life support and a mechanical ventilator. ARDS is severe respiratory failure characterized by inflammation in the lungs.
  • A subset of patients who survive COVID-19 infection and recover from ARDS may develop lung fibrosis. 
  • Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a group of disorders associated with fibrosis (scarring) of the lungs. ILD includes idiopathic PF, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and other lung diseases.
  • Fibrosis that may develop after ARDS and PF that arises in ILD have different features.
  • ILD-related fibrosis is chronic and progressive. The fibrosis that can develop after surviving ARDS is severe, but is usually not progressive. Recovery for post-ARDS fibrosis takes about one year and may not be complete.
  • Because fibrosis in ARDS and chronic ILDs may share underlying commonalities, however, there is a possibility that treatments for ILDs may be beneficial for lung diseases associated with COVID-19.

Regardless of the cause, there is currently no known cure for pulmonary fibrosis. 

Refer to the original statement for more information.

*Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. (2020, April 6). Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation Statement on COVID-19 [Press release]. PR Newswire.