The outbreak of COVID-19 reminds us that the emerging and reemerging respiratory virus infections pose a continuing threat to human life. Cytokine storm syndromes of viral origin seem to have a common pathogenesis of the imbalanced immune response with the exaggerated inflammatory reaction combined with the reduction and functional exhaustion of T cells. Immunomodulatory therapy is gaining interest in COVID-19, but this strategy has received less attention in other respiratory viral infections than it deserved. In this review we suggest that based on the similarities of the immune dysfunction in the severe cases of different respiratory viral infections, some lessons from the immunomodulatory therapy of COVID-19 (particularly regarding the choice of an immunomodulatory drug, the selection of patients and optimal time window for this kind of therapy) could be applied for some cases of severe influenza infection and probably for some future outbreaks of novel severe respiratory viral infections.
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