COVID-19 in the pre-pandemic period: a survey of the time commitment and perceptions of infectious diseases physicians in Australia and New Zealand.
Foley DA., Chew R., Raby E., Tong SYC., Davis JS., Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Network None.
BackgroundInfectious diseases (ID) physicians perform a pivotal role in directing the response to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).AimTo assess the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on workload and the perceptions of ID physicians regarding the national response in Australia and New Zealand in the pre-pandemic.MethodsA survey of ID physicians in Australia and New Zealand was undertaken from 3 to 10 March 2020. Respondents were asked to estimate time spent on SARS-CoV-2-related activities in February and report their agreement with statements on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 'strongly agree' to 'strongly disagree'. We also asked about the intended use of investigational agents.ResultsThere were 214 respondents (36% of 600 eligible participants). The median workload due to SARS-CoV-2-related activities was 34% of one full-time equivalent (interquartile range 18-68%). Less than a quarter (50, 23%) of respondents had experience managing cases, while 33% (70) had experience preparing during similar pandemics. Nevertheless, 88% (188/213) believed they were well informed when giving testing and management advice, and 45% (95/212) believed their national response was well coordinated. Additionally, 41% (88/214) were worried about becoming infected through occupational exposure. Over half (116, 54%) the respondents intended to use lopinavir/ritonavir in confirmed cases of COVID-19 with severe disease.ConclusionsID physicians spent a large proportion of time on SARS-CoV-2-related activities. Increased staffing is required to avoid burnout. Importantly, ID physicians feel well informed when giving advice. A national body should be established to co-ordinate response. Treatment efficacy trials are needed to clarify the utility of unproven treatments.