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Results of the Wellcome Trust funded trial of the experimental anti-Ebola drug TKM-130803 have been published today in PLOS Medicine. Using a novel approach designed to get rapid indications of a drug's effectiveness, the trial showed that at the dose given the drug did not improve survival compared to historic controls.
Implementation of C-reactive protein point of care testing to improve antibiotic targeting in respiratory illness in Vietnamese primary care (ICAT): a study protocol for a cluster randomised controlled trial.
IntroductionC-reactive protein (CRP), a biomarker of infection, has been used widely in high-income settings to guide antibiotic treatment in patients presenting with respiratory illnesses in primary care. Recent trials in low- and middle-income countries showed that CRP testing could safely reduce antibiotic use in patients with non-severe acute respiratory infections (ARIs) and fever in primary care. The studies, however, were conducted in a research-oriented context, with research staff closely monitoring healthcare behaviour thus potentially influencing healthcare workers' prescribing practices. For policy-makers to consider wide-scale roll-out, a pragmatic implementation study of the impact of CRP point of care (POC) testing in routine care is needed.Methods and analysisA pragmatic, cluster-randomised controlled trial, with two study arms, consisting of 24 commune health centres (CHC) in the intervention arm (provision of CRP tests with additional healthcare worker guidance) and 24 facilities acting as controls (routine care). Comparison between the treatment arms will be through logistic regression, with the treatment assignment as a fixed effect, and the CHC as a random effect. With 48 clusters, an average of 10 consultations per facility per week will result in approximately 520 over 1 year, and 24 960 in total (12 480 per arm). We will be able to detect a reduction of 12% to 23% or more in immediate antibiotic prescription as a result of the CRP POC intervention. The primary endpoint is the proportion of patient consultations for ARI resulting in immediate antibiotic prescription. Secondary endpoints include the proportion of all patients receiving an antibiotic prescription regardless of ARI diagnosis, frequency of re-consultation, subsequent antibiotic use when antibiotics are not prescribed, referral and hospitalisation.Ethics and disseminationThe study protocol was approved by the Oxford University Tropical Research Ethics Committee (OxTREC, Reference: 53-18), and the ethical committee of the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Vietnam (Reference:07/HDDD-NDTW/2019). Results from this study will be disseminated via meetings with stakeholders, conferences and publications in peer-reviewed journals. Authorship and reporting of this work will follow international guidelines.Trial registration detailsNCT03855215; Pre-results.
Value of C-reactive protein in differentiating viral from bacterial aetiologies in patients with non-malaria acute undifferentiated fever in tropical areas: a meta-analysis and individual patient data study.
C-reactive protein (CRP) is used to discriminate common bacterial and viral infections, but its utility in tropical settings remains unknown. We performed a meta-analysis of studies performed in Asia and Africa. First, mean CRP levels for specific tropical infections were calculated. Thereafter, individual patient data (IPD) from patients with non-malarial undifferentiated fever (NMUF) who were tested for viral and bacterial pathogens were analysed, calculating separate cut-off values and their performance in classifying viral or bacterial disease. Mean CRP levels of 7307 patients from 13 countries were dengue 12.0 mg/l (standard error [SE] 2.7), chikungunya 41.0 mg/l (SE 19.5), influenza 15.9 mg/l (SE 6.3), Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever 9.7 mg/l (SE 4.7), Salmonella 61.9 mg/l (SE 5.4), Rickettsia 61.3 mg/l (SE 8.8), Coxiella burnetii 98.7 mg/l (SE 44.0) and Leptospira infections 113.8 mg/l (SE 23.1). IPD analysis of 1059 NMUF patients ≥5 y of age showed CRP <10 mg/l had 52% sensitivity (95% confidence interval [CI] 48 to 56) and 95% specificity (95% CI 93 to 97) to detect viral infections. CRP >40 mg/l had 74% sensitivity (95% CI 70 to 77) and 84% specificity (95% CI 81 to 87) to identify bacterial infections. Compared with routine care, the relative risk for incorrect classification was 0.64 (95% CI 0.55 to 0.75) and the number needed to test for one extra correctly classified case was 8 (95% CI 6 to 12). A two cut-off value CRP test may help clinicians to discriminate viral and bacterial aetiologies of NMUF in tropical areas.
Evaluation of the Panbio Leptospira IgM ELISA among Outpatients Attending Primary Care in Southeast Asia.
Despite estimates suggesting Leptospira spp. being endemic in Southeast Asia, evidence remains limited. Diagnostic accuracy evaluations based on Leptospira ELISA mainly rely on hospitalized and severe patients; therefore, studies measuring the pathogen burden may be inaccurate in the community. We evaluated the Panbio Leptospira ELISA IgM among 656 febrile outpatients attending primary care in Chiangrai, Thailand, and Hlaing Tha Yar, Yangon, Myanmar. ELISA demonstrated limited diagnostic accuracy for the detection of acute leptospiral infection using the manufacturer recommended cutoff, with a sensitivity of 71.4% and specificity of 36.4%, and an area under the receiver operator characteristic curve value of 0.65 (95% CI: 0.41-0.89), compared with our reference test, the PCR assay. ELISA also performed poorly as a screening tool for detecting recent exposure to Leptospira spp. compared with the "gold-standard" microscopic agglutination test, with a specificity of 42.7%. We conclude that the utility of the Leptospira IgM ELISA for both serodiagnosis and seroprevalence is limited in our setting.
Inter-prescriber variability in the decision to prescribe antibiotics to febrile patients attending primary care in Myanmar
Abstract Background Most antibiotic prescribing occurs in primary care. Even within the same health facility, there may be differences between prescribers in their tendency to prescribe antibiotics, which may be masked by summary data. We aimed to quantify prescriber variability in antibiotic prescription to patients with acute fever in primary care clinics in Myanmar. Methods We conducted a secondary analysis of prescribing data from 1090 patient consultations with 40 prescribing doctors from a trial investigating the effect of point-of-care C-reactive protein (CRP) tests on antibiotic prescription for acute fever. We used multilevel logistic regression models to assess inter-prescriber variability in the decision to prescribe antibiotics. Results The median odds ratio (MOR) in the unadjusted model was 1.82 (95% CI: 1.47–2.56) indicating that when two prescribers from this population are randomly selected then in half of these pairs the odds of prescription will be greater than 1.82-fold higher in one prescriber than the other. The estimated variability from this sample of prescribers corresponds to a population of prescribers where the top 25% of prescribers will prescribe antibiotics to over 41% of patients while the bottom 25% will prescribe antibiotics to less than 23% of patients. Inter-prescriber variation in antibiotic prescribing remained after adjustment for patient characteristics and CRP information (P < 0.001). Conclusions Despite sharing the same management guidelines, there was substantial inter-prescriber variation in antibiotic prescription to patients with acute fever. This variation should be considered when designing trials and stewardship programmes aiming to reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescribing.
Prediction of disease severity in young children presenting with acute febrile illness in resource-limited settings: a protocol for a prospective observational study
IntroductionIn rural and difficult-to-access settings, early and accurate recognition of febrile children at risk of progressing to serious illness could contribute to improved patient outcomes and better resource allocation. This study aims to develop a prognostic clinical prediction tool to assist community healthcare providers identify febrile children who might benefit from referral or admission for facility-based medical care.Methods and analysisThis prospective observational study will recruit at least 4900 paediatric inpatients and outpatients under the age of 5 years presenting with an acute febrile illness to seven hospitals in six countries across Asia. A venous blood sample and nasopharyngeal swab is collected from each participant and detailed clinical data recorded at presentation, and each day for the first 48 hours of admission for inpatients. Multianalyte assays are performed at reference laboratories to measure a panel of host biomarkers, as well as targeted aetiological investigations for common bacterial and viral pathogens. Clinical outcome is ascertained on day 2 and day 28.Presenting syndromes, clinical outcomes and aetiology of acute febrile illness will be described and compared across sites. Following the latest guidance in prediction model building, a prognostic clinical prediction model, combining simple clinical features and measurements of host biomarkers, will be derived and geographically externally validated. The performance of the model will be evaluated in specific presenting clinical syndromes and fever aetiologies.Ethics and disseminationThe study has received approval from all relevant international, national and institutional ethics committees. Written informed consent is provided by the caretaker of all participants. Results will be shared with local and national stakeholders, and disseminated via peer-reviewed open-access journals and scientific meetings.Trial registration numberNCT04285021.
Implementation of field detection devices for antimalarial quality screening in Lao PDR—A cost-effectiveness analysis
Substandard and falsified (SF) antimalarials have devastating consequences including increased morbidity, mortality and economic losses. Portable medicine quality screening devices are increasingly available, but whether their use for the detection of SF antimalarials is cost-effective is not known. We evaluated the cost-effectiveness of introducing such devices in post-market surveillance in pharmacies in Laos, conservatively focusing on their outcome in detecting SF artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs). We simulated the deployment of six portable screening devices: two handheld near-infrared [MicroPHAZIR RX, NIR-S-G1], two handheld Raman [Progeny, TruScan RM]; one portable mid-infrared [4500a FTIR] spectrometers, and single-use disposable paper analytical devices [PADs]. We considered two scenarios with high and low levels of SF ACTs. Different sampling strategies in which medicine inspectors would test 1, 2, or 3 sample(s) of each brand of ACT were evaluated. Costs of inspection including device procurement, inspector time, reagents, reference testing, and replacement with genuine ACTs were estimated. Outcomes were measured as disability adjusted life years (DALYs) and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios were estimated for each device compared with a baseline of visual inspections alone. In the scenario with high levels of SF ACTs, all devices were cost-effective with a 1-sample strategy. In the scenario of low levels of SF ACTs, only four devices (MicroPHAZIR RX, 4500a FTIR, NIR-S-G1, and PADs) were cost-effective with a 1-sample strategy. In the multi-way comparative analysis, in both scenarios the NIR-S-G1 testing 2 samples was the most cost-effective option. Routine inspection of ACT quality using portable screening devices is likely to be cost-effective in the Laos context. This work should encourage policy-makers or regulators to further investigate investment in portable screening devices to detect SF medicines and reduce their associated undesired health and economic burdens.
Facilitating safe discharge through predicting disease progression in moderate COVID-19: a prospective cohort study to develop and validate a clinical prediction model in resource-limited settings.
BackgroundIn locations where few people have received COVID-19 vaccines, health systems remain vulnerable to surges in SARS-CoV-2 infections. Tools to identify patients suitable for community-based management are urgently needed.MethodsWe prospectively recruited adults presenting to two hospitals in India with moderate symptoms of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 in order to develop and validate a clinical prediction model to rule-out progression to supplemental oxygen requirement. The primary outcome was defined as any of the following: SpO2 < 94%; respiratory rate > 30 bpm; SpO2/FiO2 < 400; or death. We specified a priori that each model would contain three clinical parameters (age, sex and SpO2) and one of seven shortlisted biochemical biomarkers measurable using commercially-available rapid tests (CRP, D-dimer, IL-6, NLR, PCT, sTREM-1 or suPAR), to ensure the models would be suitable for resource-limited settings. We evaluated discrimination, calibration and clinical utility of the models in a held-out temporal external validation cohort.Results426 participants were recruited, of whom 89 (21.0%) met the primary outcome. 257 participants comprised the development cohort and 166 comprised the validation cohort. The three models containing NLR, suPAR or IL-6 demonstrated promising discrimination (c-statistics: 0.72 to 0.74) and calibration (calibration slopes: 1.01 to 1.05) in the validation cohort, and provided greater utility than a model containing the clinical parameters alone.ConclusionsWe present three clinical prediction models that could help clinicians identify patients with moderate COVID-19 suitable for community-based management. The models are readily implementable and of particular relevance for locations with limited resources.
Host biomarker testing can be used as an adjunct to the clinical assessment of patients with infections and might be particularly impactful in resource-constrained settings. Research on the merits of this approach at peripheral levels of low- and middle-income country health systems is limited. In part, this is due to resource-intense requirements for sample collection, processing, and storage. We evaluated the stability of 16 endothelial and immune activation biomarkers implicated in the host response to infection stored in venous plasma and dried blood spot specimens at different temperatures for 6 months. We found that -80°C storage offered no clear advantage over -20°C for plasma aliquots, and most biomarkers studied could safely be stored as dried blood spots at refrigeration temperatures (4°C) for up to 3 months. These results identify more practical methods for host biomarker testing in resource-limited environments, which could help facilitate research in rural and remote environments.
Predictors of disease severity in children presenting from the community with febrile illnesses: a systematic review of prognostic studies
IntroductionEarly identification of children at risk of severe febrile illness can optimise referral, admission and treatment decisions, particularly in resource-limited settings. We aimed to identify prognostic clinical and laboratory factors that predict progression to severe disease in febrile children presenting from the community.MethodsWe systematically reviewed publications retrieved from MEDLINE, Web of Science and Embase between 31 May 1999 and 30 April 2020, supplemented by hand search of reference lists and consultation with an expert Technical Advisory Panel. Studies evaluating prognostic factors or clinical prediction models in children presenting from the community with febrile illnesses were eligible. The primary outcome was any objective measure of disease severity ascertained within 30 days of enrolment. We calculated unadjusted likelihood ratios (LRs) for comparison of prognostic factors, and compared clinical prediction models using the area under the receiver operating characteristic curves (AUROCs). Risk of bias and applicability of studies were assessed using the Prediction Model Risk of Bias Assessment Tool and the Quality In Prognosis Studies tool.ResultsOf 5949 articles identified, 18 studies evaluating 200 prognostic factors and 25 clinical prediction models in 24 530 children were included. Heterogeneity between studies precluded formal meta-analysis. Malnutrition (positive LR range 1.56–11.13), hypoxia (2.10–8.11), altered consciousness (1.24–14.02), and markers of acidosis (1.36–7.71) and poor peripheral perfusion (1.78–17.38) were the most common predictors of severe disease. Clinical prediction model performance varied widely (AUROC range 0.49–0.97). Concerns regarding applicability were identified and most studies were at high risk of bias.ConclusionsFew studies address this important public health question. We identified prognostic factors from a wide range of geographic contexts that can help clinicians assess febrile children at risk of progressing to severe disease. Multicentre studies that include outpatients are required to explore generalisability and develop data-driven tools to support patient prioritisation and triage at the community level.PROSPERO registration numberCRD42019140542.
The impact of pulse oximetry on diagnosis, management and outcomes of acute febrile illness in low-income and middle-income countries: a systematic review.
BackgroundAcute fever is a common presenting symptom in low/middle-income countries (LMICs) and is strongly associated with sepsis. Hypoxaemia predicts disease severity in such patients but is poorly detected by clinical examination. Therefore, including pulse oximetry in the assessment of acutely febrile patients may improve clinical outcomes in LMIC settings.MethodsWe systematically reviewed studies of any design comparing one group where pulse oximetry was used and at least one group where it was not. The target population was patients of any age presenting with acute febrile illness or associated syndromes in LMICs. Studies were obtained from searching PubMed, EMBASE, CABI Global Health, Global Index Medicus, CINAHL, Cochrane CENTRAL, Web of Science and DARE. Further studies were identified through searches of non-governmental organisation websites, snowballing and input from a Technical Advisory Panel. Outcomes of interest were diagnosis, management and patient outcomes. Study quality was assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias 2 tool for Cluster Randomised Trials and Risk of Bias in Non-randomized Studies of Interventions tools, as appropriate.ResultsTen of 4898 studies were eligible for inclusion. Their small number and heterogeneity prevented formal meta-analysis. All studies were in children, eight only recruited patients with pneumonia, and nine were conducted in Africa or Australasia. Six were at serious risk of bias. There was moderately strong evidence for the utility of pulse oximetry in diagnosing pneumonia and identifying severe disease requiring hospital referral. Pulse oximetry used as part of a quality-assured facility-wide package of interventions may reduce pneumonia mortality, but studies assessing this endpoint were at serious risk of bias.ConclusionsVery few studies addressed this important question. In LMICs, pulse oximetry may assist clinicians in diagnosing and managing paediatric pneumonia, but for the greatest impact on patient outcomes should be implemented as part of a health systems approach. The evidence for these conclusions is not widely generalisable and is of poor quality.
Defining the burden of febrile illness in rural South and Southeast Asia: an open letter to announce the launch of the Rural Febrile Illness project
In rural areas of South and Southeast Asia malaria is declining but febrile illnesses still account for substantial morbidity and mortality. Village health workers (VHWs) are often the first point of contact with the formal health system, and for patients with febrile illnesses they can provide early diagnosis and treatment of malaria. However, for the majority of febrile patients, VHWs lack the training, support and resources to provide further care. Consequently, treatable bacterial illnesses are missed, antibiotics are overused and poorly targeted, and patient attendance wanes along with declining malaria. This Open Letter announces the start of a new initiative, the Rural Febrile Illness (RFI) project, the first in a series of projects to be implemented as part of the South and Southeast Asian Community-based Trials Network (SEACTN) research programme. This multi-country, multi-site project will run in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Myanmar. It will define the epidemiological baseline of febrile illness in nine remote and underserved areas of Asia where malaria endemicity is declining and access to health services is limited. The RFI project aims to determine the incidence, causes and outcomes of febrile illness; understand the opportunities, barriers and appetite for adjustment of the role of VHWs to include management of non-malarial febrile illnesses; and establish a network of community healthcare providers and facilities capable of implementing interventions designed to triage, diagnose and treat patients presenting with febrile illnesses within these communities in the future.
Availability, scope and quality of monkeypox clinical management guidelines globally: a systematic review
BackgroundMonkeypox (MPX) is an important human Orthopoxvirus infection. There has been an increase in MPX cases and outbreaks in endemic and non-endemic regions in recent decades. We appraised the availability, scope, quality and inclusivity of clinical management guidelines for MPX globally.MethodsFor this systematic review, we searched six databases from inception until 14 October 2021, augmented by a grey literature search until 17 May 2022. MPX guidelines providing treatment and supportive care recommendations were included, with no exclusions for language. Two reviewers assessed the guidelines. Quality was assessed using the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation II tool.ResultsOf 2026 records screened, 14 guidelines were included. Overall, most guidelines were of low-quality with a median score of 2 out of 7 (range: 1–7), lacked detail and covered a narrow range of topics. Most guidelines focused on adults, five (36%) provided some advice for children, three (21%) for pregnant women and three (21%) for people living with HIV. Treatment guidance was mostly limited to advice on antivirals; seven guidelines advised cidofovir (four specified for severe MPX only); 29% (4/14) tecovirimat, and 7% (1/14) brincidofovir. Only one guideline provided recommendations on supportive care and treatment of complications. All guidelines recommended vaccination as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Three guidelines advised on vaccinia immune globulin as PEP for severe cases in people with immunosuppression.ConclusionOur results highlight a lack of evidence-based clinical management guidelines for MPX globally. There is a clear and urgent need for research into treatment and prophylaxis including for different risk populations. The current outbreak provides an opportunity to accelerate this research through coordinated high-quality studies. New evidence should be incorporated into globally accessible guidelines, to benefit patient and epidemic outcomes. A ‘living guideline’ framework is recommended.PROSPERO registration numberCRD42020167361.
Lack of Evidence for Ribavirin Treatment of Lassa Fever in Systematic Review of Published and Unpublished Studies1.
Ribavirin has been used widely to treat Lassa fever in West Africa since the 1980s. However, few studies have systematically appraised the evidence for its use. We conducted a systematic review of published and unpublished literature retrieved from electronic databases and gray literature from inception to March 8, 2022. We identified 13 studies of the comparative effectiveness of ribavirin versus no ribavirin treatment on mortality outcomes, including unpublished data from a study in Sierra Leone provided through a US Freedom of Information Act request. Although ribavirin was associated with decreased mortality rates, results of these studies were at critical or serious risk for bias when appraised using the ROBINS-I tool. Important risks for bias related to lack of control for confounders, immortal time bias, and missing outcome data. Robust evidence supporting the use of ribavirin in Lassa fever is lacking. Well-conducted clinical trials to elucidate the effectiveness of ribavirin for Lassa fever are needed.
ISARIC-COVID-19 dataset: A Prospective, Standardized, Global Dataset of Patients Hospitalized with COVID-19.
The International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium (ISARIC) COVID-19 dataset is one of the largest international databases of prospectively collected clinical data on people hospitalized with COVID-19. This dataset was compiled during the COVID-19 pandemic by a network of hospitals that collect data using the ISARIC-World Health Organization Clinical Characterization Protocol and data tools. The database includes data from more than 705,000 patients, collected in more than 60 countries and 1,500 centres worldwide. Patient data are available from acute hospital admissions with COVID-19 and outpatient follow-ups. The data include signs and symptoms, pre-existing comorbidities, vital signs, chronic and acute treatments, complications, dates of hospitalization and discharge, mortality, viral strains, vaccination status, and other data. Here, we present the dataset characteristics, explain its architecture and how to gain access, and provide tools to facilitate its use.
The Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) Trial was set up in March 2020 to evaluate treatments for people hospitalised with COVID-19. To maximise recruitment it was designed to fit into routine clinical care throughout the UK, and as a result it has enrolled more patients than any other COVID-19 treatment trial. RECOVERY has shown four drugs to be life-saving - dexamethasone, tocilizumab, baricitinib and casirivimab-imdevimab - and a further six have been shown to be of little or no benefit. In each case, results from RECOVERY were clear enough to rapidly influence global practice. Some of the reasons for this success relate to its particular setting in the UK during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, but many are generalisable to other contexts. In particular, its focus on recruiting large numbers of patients to identify or rule out moderate but worthwhile benefits of treatment, and the design decisions that followed from this. Similar large streamlined trials could produce similarly clear answers about the treatment of many other common diseases.