299 results found
Verity R, Okell L, Dorigatti I, et al., 2021, COVID-19 and the difficulty of inferring epidemiological parameters from clinical data Reply, LANCET INFECTIOUS DISEASES, Vol: 21, Pages: 28-28, ISSN: 1473-3099
Mousa A, Al-Taiar A, Anstey NM, et al., 2020, The impact of delayed treatment of uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria on progression to severe malaria: a systematic review and a pooled multicentre individual-patient meta-analysis, PLoS Medicine, Vol: 17, Pages: 1-28, ISSN: 1549-1277
Background: Delay in receiving treatment for uncomplicated malaria is often reported to increase the risk of developing severe malaria, but access to treatment remains low in most high-burden areas. Understanding the contribution of treatment delay on progression to severe disease is critical to determine how quickly patients need to receive treatment and to quantify the impact of widely implemented treatment interventions, such as “test-and-treat” policies administered by community health workers. We conducted a pooled individual-participant meta-analysis to estimate the association between treatment delay and presenting with severe malaria.Methods and Findings: A search using Ovid MEDLINE and Embase was initially conducted to identify studies on severe P. falciparum malaria which included information on treatment delay, such as fever duration 12(inceptions to 22nd September 2017). Studies identified included five case-control and eight other observational clinical studies of severe and uncomplicated malaria cases. Risk of bias was assessed using the Newcastle–Ottawa scale and all studies were ranked as “Good”, scoring ≥7/10. Individual-patient data were pooled from thirteen studies of 3,989(94.1% aged <15 years)severe malaria patients and 5,780(79.6% aged <15 years)uncomplicated malaria cases in Benin, Malaysia, Mozambique, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia. Definitions of severe malaria were standardised across studies to compare treatment delay in patients with uncomplicated malaria and different severe malaria phenotypes using age-adjusted mixed-effects regression. The odds of any severe malaria phenotype were significantly higher in children with longer delays between initial symptoms and arrival at the health facility (OR=1.33, 95%CI:1.07-1.64 for a delay of >24 hours vs. ≤24 hours;p=0.009). Reported illness duration was a strong predictor of presenting with severe malarial anaemia (SMA) in children
McCabe R, Schmit N, Christen P, et al., 2020, Adapting hospital capacity to meet changing demands during the COVID-19 pandemic, BMC Medicine, Vol: 18, Pages: 1-12, ISSN: 1741-7015
BackgroundTo calculate hospital surge capacity, achieved via hospital provision interventions implemented for the emergency treatment of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and other patients through March to May 2020; to evaluate the conditions for admitting patients for elective surgery under varying admission levels of COVID-19 patients.MethodsWe analysed National Health Service (NHS) datasets and literature reviews to estimate hospital care capacity before the pandemic (pre-pandemic baseline) and to quantify the impact of interventions (cancellation of elective surgery, field hospitals, use of private hospitals, deployment of former medical staff and deployment of newly qualified medical staff) for treatment of adult COVID-19 patients, focusing on general and acute (G&A) and critical care (CC) beds, staff and ventilators.ResultsNHS England would not have had sufficient capacity to treat all COVID-19 and other patients in March and April 2020 without the hospital provision interventions, which alleviated significant shortfalls in CC nurses, CC and G&A beds and CC junior doctors. All elective surgery can be conducted at normal pre-pandemic levels provided the other interventions are sustained, but only if the daily number of COVID-19 patients occupying CC beds is not greater than 1550 in the whole of England. If the other interventions are not maintained, then elective surgery can only be conducted if the number of COVID-19 patients occupying CC beds is not greater than 320. However, there is greater national capacity to treat G&A patients: without interventions, it takes almost 10,000 G&A COVID-19 patients before any G&A elective patients would be unable to be accommodated.ConclusionsUnless COVID-19 hospitalisations drop to low levels, there is a continued need to enhance critical care capacity in England with field hospitals, use of private hospitals or deployment of former and newly qualified medical staff to allow some or all elective surge
Watson O, Okell L, Hellewell J, et al., 2020, Evaluating the performance of malaria genetics for inferring changes in transmission intensity using transmission modelling, Molecular Biology and Evolution, Vol: 38, Pages: 274-289, ISSN: 0737-4038
Substantial progress has been made globally to control malaria, however there is a growing need for innovative new tools to ensure continued progress. One approach is to harness genetic sequencing and accompanying methodological approaches as have been used in the control of other infectious diseases. However, to utilise these methodologies for malaria we first need to extend the methods to capture the complex interactions between parasites, human and vector hosts, and environment, which all impact the level of genetic diversity and relatedness of malaria parasites. We develop an individual-based transmission model to simulate malaria parasite genetics parameterised using estimated relationships between complexity of infection and age from 5 regions in Uganda and Kenya. We predict that cotransmission and superinfection contribute equally to within-host parasite genetic diversity at 11.5% PCR prevalence, above which superinfections dominate. Finally, we characterise the predictive power of six metrics of parasite genetics for detecting changes in transmission intensity, before grouping them in an ensemble statistical model. The model predicted malaria prevalence with a mean absolute error of 0.055. Different assumptions about the availability of sample metadata were considered, with the most accurate predictions of malaria prevalence made when the clinical status and age of sampled individuals is known. Parasite genetics may provide a novel surveillance tool for estimating the prevalence of malaria in areas in which prevalence surveys are not feasible. However, the findings presented here reinforce the need for patient metadata to be recorded and made available within all future attempts to use parasite genetics for surveillance.
Hogan A, Jewell B, Sherrard-Smith E, et al., 2020, Potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on HIV, TB and malaria in low- and middle-income countries: a modelling study, The Lancet Global Health, Vol: 8, Pages: e1132-e1141, ISSN: 2214-109X
Background: COVID-19 has the potential to cause substantial disruptions to health services, including by cases overburdening the health system or response measures limiting usual programmatic activities. We aimed to quantify the extent to which disruptions in services for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), tuberculosis (TB) and malaria in low- and middle-income countries with high burdens of those disease could lead to additional loss of life. Methods: We constructed plausible scenarios for the disruptions that could be incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic and used established transmission models for each disease to estimate the additional impact on health that could be caused in selected settings.Findings: In high burden settings, HIV-, TB- and malaria-related deaths over five years may increase by up to 10%, 20% and 36%, respectively, compared to if there were no COVID-19 pandemic. We estimate the greatest impact on HIV to be from interruption to antiretroviral therapy, which may occur during a period of high health system demand. For TB, we estimate the greatest impact is from reductions in timely diagnosis and treatment of new cases, which may result from any prolonged period of COVID-19 suppression interventions. We estimate that the greatest impact on malaria burden could come from interruption of planned net campaigns. These disruptions could lead to loss of life-years over five years that is of the same order of magnitude as the direct impact from COVID-19 in places with a high burden of malaria and large HIV/TB epidemics.Interpretation: Maintaining the most critical prevention activities and healthcare services for HIV, TB and malaria could significantly reduce the overall impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.Funding: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Wellcome Trust, DFID, MRC
Flaxman S, Mishra S, Gandy A, et al., 2020, Estimating the effects of non-pharmaceutical interventions on COVID-19 in Europe, Nature, Vol: 584, Pages: 257-261, ISSN: 0028-0836
Following the emergence of a novel coronavirus1 (SARS-CoV-2) and its spread outside of China, Europe has experienced large epidemics. In response, many European countries have implemented unprecedented non-pharmaceutical interventions such as closure of schools and national lockdowns. We study the impact of major interventions across 11 European countries for the period from the start of COVID-19 until the 4th of May 2020 when lockdowns started to be lifted. Our model calculates backwards from observed deaths to estimate transmission that occurred several weeks prior, allowing for the time lag between infection and death. We use partial pooling of information between countries with both individual and shared effects on the reproduction number. Pooling allows more information to be used, helps overcome data idiosyncrasies, and enables more timely estimates. Our model relies on fixed estimates of some epidemiological parameters such as the infection fatality rate, does not include importation or subnational variation and assumes that changes in the reproduction number are an immediate response to interventions rather than gradual changes in behavior. Amidst the ongoing pandemic, we rely on death data that is incomplete, with systematic biases in reporting, and subject to future consolidation. We estimate that, for all the countries we consider, current interventions have been sufficient to drive the reproduction number Rt below 1 (probability Rt< 1.0 is 99.9%) and achieve epidemic control. We estimate that, across all 11 countries, between 12 and 15 million individuals have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 up to 4th May, representing between 3.2% and 4.0% of the population. Our results show that major non-pharmaceutical interventions and lockdown in particular have had a large effect on reducing transmission. Continued intervention should be considered to keep transmission of SARS-CoV-2 under control.
Sherrard-Smith E, Hogan AB, Hamlet A, et al., 2020, The potential public health consequences of COVID-19 on malaria in Africa., Nature Medicine, Vol: 26, Pages: 1411-1416, ISSN: 1078-8956
The burden of malaria is heavily concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) where cases and deaths associated with COVID-19 are rising1. In response, countries are implementing societal measures aimed at curtailing transmission of SARS-CoV-22,3. Despite these measures, the COVID-19 epidemic could still result in millions of deaths as local health facilities become overwhelmed4. Advances in malaria control this century have been largely due to distribution of long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs)5, with many SSA countries having planned campaigns for 2020. In the present study, we use COVID-19 and malaria transmission models to estimate the impact of disruption of malaria prevention activities and other core health services under four different COVID-19 epidemic scenarios. If activities are halted, the malaria burden in 2020 could be more than double that of 2019. In Nigeria alone, reducing case management for 6 months and delaying LLIN campaigns could result in 81,000 (44,000-119,000) additional deaths. Mitigating these negative impacts is achievable, and LLIN distributions in particular should be prioritized alongside access to antimalarial treatments to prevent substantial malaria epidemics.
Walker P, Cairns M, Slater H, et al., 2020, Modelling the incremental benefit of introducing malaria screening strategies to antenatal care in Africa, Nature Communications, Vol: 11, Pages: 1-12, ISSN: 2041-1723
Plasmodium falciparum in pregnancy is a major cause of adverse pregnancy outcomes. We combine performance estimates of standard rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) from trials of intermittent screening and treatment in pregnancy (ISTp) with modelling to assess whether screening at antenatal visits improves upon current intermittent preventative therapy with sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (IPTp-SP). We estimate that RDTs in primigravidae at first antenatal visit are substantially more sensitive than in non-pregnant adults (OR = 17.2, 95% Cr.I. 13.8-21.6), and that sensitivity declines in subsequent visits and with gravidity, likely driven by declining susceptibility to placental infection. Monthly ISTp with standard RDTs, even with highly effective drugs, is not superior to monthly IPTp-SP. However, a hybrid strategy, recently adopted in Tanzania, combining testing and treatment at first visit with IPTp-SP may offer benefit, especially in areas with high-grade SP resistance. Screening and treatment in the first trimester, when IPTp-SP is contraindicated, could substantially improve pregnancy outcomes.
Okell LC, Verity R, Watson OJ, et al., 2020, Have deaths from COVID-19 in Europe plateaued due to herd immunity?, LANCET, Vol: 395, Pages: E110-E111, ISSN: 0140-6736
Forchini G, Lochen A, Hallett T, et al., 2020, Report 28: Excess non-COVID-19 deaths in England and Wales between 29th February and 5th June 2020
There were 189,403 deaths from any cause reported in England from 29th February to 5th June 2020 inclusive, and 11,278 all-cause deaths in Wales over the same period. Of those deaths, 44,736 (23.6%) registered COVID-19 on the death certificate in England, and 2,294 (20.3%) in Wales, while 144,667 (76.4%) were not recorded as having been due to COVID-19 in England, and 8,984 (79.7%) in Wales. However, it could be that some of the ‘non-COVID-19’ deaths have in fact also been caused by COVID-19, either as the direct cause of death, or indirectly through provisions for the pandemic impeding access to care for other conditions. There is uncertainty in how many of the non-COVID-19 deaths were directly or indirectly caused by the pandemic. We estimated the excess deaths that were not recorded as associated with COVID-19 in the death certificate (excess non-COVID-19 deaths) as the deaths for which COVID-19 was not reported as the cause, compared to those we would have expected to occur had the pandemic not happened. Expected deaths were forecast with an analysis of historic trends in deaths between 2010 and April 2020 using data by the Office of National Statistics and a statistical time series model. According to the model, we expected 136,294 (95% CI 133,882 - 138,696) deaths in England, and 8,983 (CI 8,051 - 9,904) in Wales over this period, significantly fewer than the number of deaths reported. This means that there were 8,983 (95% CI 5,971 - 10,785) total excess non-COVID-19 deaths in England. For every 100 COVID-19 deaths during the period from 29th February to 5th June 2020 there were between 13 and 24 cumulative excess non-COVID-19 deaths. The proportion of cumulative excess non-COVID-19 deaths of all reported deaths during this period was 4.4% (95% CI 3.2% - 5.7%) in England, with small regional variations. Excess deaths were highest in the South East at 2,213 (95% CI 327 - 4,047) and in London at 1,937 (95% CI 896 - 3,010), respectively. There is no e
Bhatia S, Imai N, Cuomo-Dannenburg G, et al., 2020, Estimating the number of undetected COVID-19 cases among travellers from mainland China, Publisher: F1000 Research Ltd
Background: Since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic in late 2019, there have been more than 152 affected regions and countries with over 110,000 confirmed cases outside mainland China.Methods: We analysed COVID-19 cases among travellers from mainland China to different regions and countries, comparing the region- and country-specific rates of detected and confirmed cases per flight volume to estimate the relative sensitivity of surveillance in different regions and countries.Results: Although travel restrictions from Wuhan City and other cities across China may have reduced the absolute number of travellers to and from China, we estimated that more than two thirds (70%, 95% CI: 54% - 80%, compared to Singapore; 75%, 95% CI: 66% - 82%, compared to multiple countries) of cases exported from mainland China have remained undetected.Conclusions: These undetected cases potentially resulted in multiple chains of human-to-human transmission outside mainland China.
McCabe R, Schmit N, Christen P, et al., 2020, Report 27 Adapting hospital capacity to meet changing demands during the COVID-19 pandemic
To meet the growing demand for hospital care due to the COVID-19 pandemic, England implemented a range of hospital provision interventions including the procurement of equipment, the establishment of additional hospital facilities and the redeployment of staff and other resources. Additionally, to further release capacity across England’s National Health Service (NHS), elective surgery was cancelled in March 2020, leading to a backlog of patients requiring care. This created a pressure on the NHS to reintroduce elective procedures, which urgently needs to be addressed. Population-level measures implemented in March and April 2020 reduced transmission of SARS-CoV-2, prompting a gradual decline in the demand for hospital care by COVID-19 patients after the peak in mid-April. Planning capacity to bring back routine procedures for non-COVID-19 patients whilst maintaining the ability to respond to any potential future increases in demand for COVID-19 care is the challenge currently faced by healthcare planners.In this report, we aim to calculate hospital capacity for emergency treatment of COVID-19 and other patients during the pandemic surge in April and May 2020; to evaluate the increase in capacity achieved via five interventions (cancellation of elective surgery, field hospitals, use of private hospitals, and deployment of former and newly qualified medical staff); and to determine how to re-introduce elective surgery considering continued demand from COVID-19 patients. We do this by modelling the supply of acute NHS hospital care, considering different capacity scenarios, namely capacity before the pandemic (baseline scenario) and after the implementation of capacity expansion interventions that impact available general and acute (G&A) and critical care (CC) beds, staff and ventilators. Demand for hospital care is accounted for in terms of non-COVID-19 and COVID-19 patients. Our results suggest that NHS England would not have had sufficient daily capacity
Walker PGT, Whittaker C, Watson OJ, et al., 2020, The impact of COVID-19 and strategies for mitigation and suppression in low- and middle-income countries, Science, Vol: 369, Pages: 413-422, ISSN: 0036-8075
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic poses a severe threat to public health worldwide. We combine data on demography, contact patterns, disease severity, and health care capacity and quality to understand its impact and inform strategies for its control. Younger populations in lower income countries may reduce overall risk but limited health system capacity coupled with closer inter-generational contact largely negates this benefit. Mitigation strategies that slow but do not interrupt transmission will still lead to COVID-19 epidemics rapidly overwhelming health systems, with substantial excess deaths in lower income countries due to the poorer health care available. Of countries that have undertaken suppression to date, lower income countries have acted earlier. However, this will need to be maintained or triggered more frequently in these settings to keep below available health capacity, with associated detrimental consequences for the wider health, well-being and economies of these countries.
Verity R, Okell LC, Dorigatti I, et al., 2020, Estimates of the severity of coronavirus disease 2019: a model-based analysis., Lancet Infectious Diseases, Vol: 20, Pages: 669-677, ISSN: 1473-3099
BACKGROUND: In the face of rapidly changing data, a range of case fatality ratio estimates for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have been produced that differ substantially in magnitude. We aimed to provide robust estimates, accounting for censoring and ascertainment biases. METHODS: We collected individual-case data for patients who died from COVID-19 in Hubei, mainland China (reported by national and provincial health commissions to Feb 8, 2020), and for cases outside of mainland China (from government or ministry of health websites and media reports for 37 countries, as well as Hong Kong and Macau, until Feb 25, 2020). These individual-case data were used to estimate the time between onset of symptoms and outcome (death or discharge from hospital). We next obtained age-stratified estimates of the case fatality ratio by relating the aggregate distribution of cases to the observed cumulative deaths in China, assuming a constant attack rate by age and adjusting for demography and age-based and location-based under-ascertainment. We also estimated the case fatality ratio from individual line-list data on 1334 cases identified outside of mainland China. Using data on the prevalence of PCR-confirmed cases in international residents repatriated from China, we obtained age-stratified estimates of the infection fatality ratio. Furthermore, data on age-stratified severity in a subset of 3665 cases from China were used to estimate the proportion of infected individuals who are likely to require hospitalisation. FINDINGS: Using data on 24 deaths that occurred in mainland China and 165 recoveries outside of China, we estimated the mean duration from onset of symptoms to death to be 17·8 days (95% credible interval [CrI] 16·9-19·2) and to hospital discharge to be 24·7 days (22·9-28·1). In all laboratory confirmed and clinically diagnosed cases from mainland China (n=70 117), we estimated a crude case fatality ratio (adjusted for cen
Dighe A, Cattarino L, Cuomo-Dannenburg G, et al., 2020, Report 25: Response to COVID-19 in South Korea and implications for lifting stringent interventions, 25
While South Korea experienced a sharp growth in COVID-19 cases early in the global pandemic, it has since rapidly reduced rates of infection and now maintains low numbers of daily new cases. Despite using less stringent “lockdown” measures than other affected countries, strong social distancing measures have been advised in high incidence areas and a 38% national decrease in movement occurred voluntarily between February 24th - March 1st. Suspected and confirmed cases were isolated quickly even during the rapid expansion of the epidemic and identification of the Shincheonji cluster. South Korea swiftly scaled up testing capacity and was able to maintain case-based interventions throughout. However, individual case-based contact tracing, not associated with a specific cluster, was a relatively minor aspect of their control program, with cluster investigations accounting for a far higher proportion of cases: the underlying epidemic was driven by a series of linked clusters, with 48% of all cases in the Shincheonji cluster and 20% in other clusters. Case-based contacts currently account for only 11% of total cases. The high volume of testing and low number of deaths suggests that South Korea experienced a small epidemic of infections relative to other countries. Therefore, caution is needed in attempting to duplicate the South Korean response in settings with larger more generalized epidemics. Finding, testing and isolating cases that are linked to clusters may be more difficult in such settings.
Unwin H, Mishra S, Bradley VC, et al., 2020, Report 23: State-level tracking of COVID-19 in the United States
our estimates show that the percentage of individuals that have been infected is 4.1% [3.7%-4.5%], with widevariation between states. For all states, even for the worst affected states, we estimate that less than a quarter of thepopulation has been infected; in New York, for example, we estimate that 16.6% [12.8%-21.6%] of individuals have beeninfected to date. Our attack rates for New York are in line with those from recent serological studies  broadly supportingour choice of infection fatality rate.There is variation in the initial reproduction number, which is likely due to a range of factors; we find a strong associationbetween the initial reproduction number with both population density (measured at the state level) and the chronologicaldate when 10 cumulative deaths occurred (a crude estimate of the date of locally sustained transmission).Our estimates suggest that the epidemic is not under control in much of the US: as of 17 May 2020 the reproductionnumber is above the critical threshold (1.0) in 24 [95% CI: 20-30] states. Higher reproduction numbers are geographicallyclustered in the South and Midwest, where epidemics are still developing, while we estimate lower reproduction numbersin states that have already suffered high COVID-19 mortality (such as the Northeast). These estimates suggest that cautionmust be taken in loosening current restrictions if effective additional measures are not put in place.We predict that increased mobility following relaxation of social distancing will lead to resurgence of transmission, keepingall else constant. We predict that deaths over the next two-month period could exceed current cumulative deathsby greater than two-fold, if the relationship between mobility and transmission remains unchanged. Our results suggestthat factors modulating transmission such as rapid testing, contact tracing and behavioural precautions are crucial to offsetthe rise of transmission associated with loosening of social distancing. Overall, we
Winskill P, Whittaker C, Walker P, et al., 2020, Report 22: Equity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic: an assessment of the direct and indirect impacts on disadvantaged and vulnerable populations in low- and lower middle-income countries, 22
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in low-income settings is likely to be more severe due to limited healthcare capacity. Within these settings, however, there exists unfair or avoidable differences in health among different groups in society – health inequities – that mean that some groups are particularly at risk from the negative direct and indirect consequences of COVID-19. The structural determinants of these are often reflected in differences by income strata, with the poorest populations having limited access to preventative measures such as handwashing. Their more fragile income status will also mean that they are likely to be employed in occupations that are not amenable to social-distancing measures, thereby further reducing their ability to protect themselves from infection. Furthermore, these populations may also lack access to timely healthcare on becoming ill. We explore these relationships by using large-scale household surveys to quantify the differences in handwashing access, occupation and hospital access with respect to wealth status in low-income settings. We use a COVID-19 transmission model to demonstrate the impact of these differences. Our results demonstrate clear trends that the probability of death from COVID-19 increases with increasing poverty. On average, we estimate a 32.0% (2.5th-97.5th centile 8.0%-72.5%) increase in the probability of death in the poorest quintile compared to the wealthiest quintile from these three factors alone. We further explore how risk mediators and the indirect impacts of COVID-19 may also hit these same disadvantaged and vulnerable the hardest. We find that larger, inter-generational households that may hamper efforts to protect the elderly if social distancing are associated with lower-income countries and, within LMICs, lower wealth status. Poorer populations are also more susceptible to food security issues - with these populations having the highest levels under-nourishment whilst also being
Mellan T, Hoeltgebaum H, Mishra S, et al., 2020, Report 21: Estimating COVID-19 cases and reproduction number in Brazil
Brazil is an epicentre for COVID-19 in Latin America. In this report we describe the Brazilian epidemicusing three epidemiological measures: the number of infections, the number of deaths and the reproduction number. Our modelling framework requires sufficient death data to estimate trends, and wetherefore limit our analysis to 16 states that have experienced a total of more than fifty deaths. Thedistribution of deaths among states is highly heterogeneous, with 5 states—São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro,Ceará, Pernambuco and Amazonas—accounting for 81% of deaths reported to date. In these states, weestimate that the percentage of people that have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 ranges from 3.3% (95%CI: 2.8%-3.7%) in São Paulo to 10.6% (95% CI: 8.8%-12.1%) in Amazonas. The reproduction number (ameasure of transmission intensity) at the start of the epidemic meant that an infected individual wouldinfect three or four others on average. Following non-pharmaceutical interventions such as school closures and decreases in population mobility, we show that the reproduction number has dropped substantially in each state. However, for all 16 states we study, we estimate with high confidence that thereproduction number remains above 1. A reproduction number above 1 means that the epidemic isnot yet controlled and will continue to grow. These trends are in stark contrast to other major COVID19 epidemics in Europe and Asia where enforced lockdowns have successfully driven the reproductionnumber below 1. While the Brazilian epidemic is still relatively nascent on a national scale, our resultssuggest that further action is needed to limit spread and prevent health system overload.
Vollmer M, Mishra S, Unwin H, et al., 2020, Report 20: A sub-national analysis of the rate of transmission of Covid-19 in Italy
Italy was the first European country to experience sustained local transmission of COVID-19. As of 1st May 2020, the Italian health authorities reported 28; 238 deaths nationally. To control the epidemic, the Italian government implemented a suite of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), including school and university closures, social distancing and full lockdown involving banning of public gatherings and non essential movement. In this report, we model the effect of NPIs on transmission using data on average mobility. We estimate that the average reproduction number (a measure of transmission intensity) is currently below one for all Italian regions, and significantly so for the majority of the regions. Despite the large number of deaths, the proportion of population that has been infected by SARS-CoV-2 (the attack rate) is far from the herd immunity threshold in all Italian regions, with the highest attack rate observed in Lombardy (13.18% [10.66%-16.70%]). Italy is set to relax the currently implemented NPIs from 4th May 2020. Given the control achieved by NPIs, we consider three scenarios for the next 8 weeks: a scenario in which mobility remains the same as during the lockdown, a scenario in which mobility returns to pre-lockdown levels by 20%, and a scenario in which mobility returns to pre-lockdown levels by 40%. The scenarios explored assume that mobility is scaled evenly across all dimensions, that behaviour stays the same as before NPIs were implemented, that no pharmaceutical interventions are introduced, and it does not include transmission reduction from contact tracing, testing and the isolation of confirmed or suspected cases. We find that, in the absence of additional interventions, even a 20% return to pre-lockdown mobility could lead to a resurgence in the number of deaths far greater than experienced in the current wave in several regions. Future increases in the number of deaths will lag behind the increase in transmission intensity and so a
Sherrard-Smith E, Hogan A, Hamlet A, et al., 2020, Report 18: The potential public health impact of COVID-19 on malaria in Africa.
The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to severely interrupt health systems in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) over the coming weeks and months. Approximately 90% of malaria deaths occur in this region of the world, with an estimated 380,000 deaths from malaria in 2018. Much of the gain made in malaria control over the last decade has been due to the distribution of long-lasting insecticide treated nets (LLINs). Many SSA countries planned to distribute these in 2020. We used COVID-19 and malaria transmission models to understand the likely impact that disruption to these distributions, alongside other core health services, could have on the malaria burden. Results indicate that if all malaria-control activities are highly disrupted then the malaria burden in 2020 could more than double that in the previous year, resulting in large malaria epidemics across the region. These will depend on the course of the COVID-19 epidemic and how it interrupts local health system. Our results also demonstrate that it is essential to prioritise the LLIN distributions either before or as soon as possible into local COVID-19 epidemics to mitigate this risk. Additional planning to ensure other malaria prevention activities are continued where possible, alongside planning to ensure basic access to antimalarial treatment, will further minimise the risk of substantial additional malaria mortality.
Hogan A, Jewell B, Sherrard-Smith E, et al., 2020, Report 19: The potential impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on HIV, TB and malaria in low- and middle-income countries
COVID-19 has the potential to cause disruptions to health services in different ways; through the health system becoming overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, through the intervention used to slow transmission of COVID-19 inhibiting access to preventative interventions and services, and through supplies of medicine being interrupted. We aim to quantify the extent to which such disruptions in services for HIV, TB and malaria in high burden low- and middle-income countries could lead to additional loss of life. In high burden settings, HIV, TB and malaria related deaths over 5 years may be increased by up to 10%, 20% and 36%, respectively, compared to if there were no COVID-19 epidemic. We estimate the greatest impact on HIV to be from interruption to ART, which may occur during a period of high or extremely high health system demand; for TB, we estimate the greatest impact is from reductions in timely diagnosis and treatment of new cases, which may result from a long period of COVID-19 suppression interventions; for malaria, we estimate that the greatest impact could come from reduced prevention activities including interruption of planned net campaigns, through all phases of the COVID-19 epidemic. In high burden settings, the impact of each type of disruption could be significant and lead to a loss of life-years over five years that is of the same order of magnitude as the direct impact from COVID-19 in places with a high burden of malaria and large HIV/TB epidemics. Maintaining the most critical prevention activities and healthcare services for HIV, TB and malaria could significantly reduce the overall impact of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Verity R, Aydemir O, Brazeau NF, et al., 2020, The impact of antimalarial resistance on the genetic structure of Plasmodium falciparum in the DRC., Nature Communications, Vol: 11, Pages: 1-10, ISSN: 2041-1723
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) harbors 11% of global malaria cases, yet little is known about the spatial and genetic structure of the parasite population in that country. We sequence 2537 Plasmodium falciparum infections, including a nationally representative population sample from DRC and samples from surrounding countries, using molecular inversion probes - a high-throughput genotyping tool. We identify an east-west divide in haplotypes known to confer resistance to chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine. Furthermore, we identify highly related parasites over large geographic distances, indicative of gene flow and migration. Our results are consistent with a background of isolation by distance combined with the effects of selection for antimalarial drug resistance. This study provides a high-resolution view of parasite genetic structure across a large country in Africa and provides a baseline to study how implementation programs may impact parasite populations.
MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, Ghani A, Walker P, 2020, COVID-19 Scenario Analysis Tool
COVID-19 Scenario Analysis Tool. MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, Imperial College London. Available at: covidsim.org. The COVID-19 Scenario Analysis Tool enables users to quickly and easily generate calibrated forward scenarios of the COVID-19 epidemic in individual countries under different control scenarios.The tool utilises an age-structured SEIR model incorporating explicit passage through disease severity settings and healthcare. Details of the model and its baseline parameters are given below. The work builds from the work reported in Report 12 – “The global impact of COVID-19 and strategies for mitigation and suppression”. A parallel R package – squire – is available from the MRC Centre for Infectious Disease Analysis GitHub site for academic purposes. The model is calibrated to the cumulative COVID-19 deaths reported to date, obtained from the European Centres for Disease Control. The COVID-19 Scenario Analysis Tool uses an age-structured SEIR model, with the infectious class divided into different stages reflecting progression through different disease severity pathways.
Ainslie KEC, Walters CE, Fu H, et al., 2020, Evidence of initial success for China exiting COVID-19 social distancing policy after achieving containment [version 1; peer review: 2 approved], Wellcome Open Res, Vol: 5, ISSN: 2398-502X
Background: The COVID-19 epidemic was declared a Global Pandemic by WHO on 11 March 2020. By 24 March 2020, over 440,000 cases and almost 20,000 deaths had been reported worldwide. In response to the fast-growing epidemic, which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Hubei, China imposed strict social distancing in Wuhan on 23 January 2020 followed closely by similar measures in other provinces. These interventions have impacted economic productivity in China, and the ability of the Chinese economy to resume without restarting the epidemic was not clear. Methods: Using daily reported cases from mainland China and Hong Kong SAR, we estimated transmissibility over time and compared it to daily within-city movement, as a proxy for economic activity. Results: Initially, within-city movement and transmission were very strongly correlated in the five mainland provinces most affected by the epidemic and Beijing. However, that correlation decreased rapidly after the initial sharp fall in transmissibility. In general, towards the end of the study period, the correlation was no longer apparent, despite substantial increases in within-city movement. A similar analysis for Hong Kong shows that intermediate levels of local activity were maintained while avoiding a large outbreak. At the very end of the study period, when China began to experience the re-introduction of a small number of cases from Europe and the United States, there is an apparent up-tick in transmission. Conclusions: Although these results do not preclude future substantial increases in incidence, they suggest that after very intense social distancing (which resulted in containment), China successfully exited its lockdown to some degree. Elsewhere, movement data are being used as proxies for economic activity to assess the impact of interventions. The results presented here illustrate how the eventual decorrelation between transmission and movement is likely a key feature of successful COVID-19 exit strategies.
Christen P, D'Aeth J, Lochen A, et al., 2020, Report 15: Strengthening hospital capacity for the COVID-19 pandemic
Planning for extreme surges in demand for hospital care of patients requiring urgent life-saving treatment for COVID-19, and other conditions, is one of the most challenging tasks facing healthcare commissioners and care providers during the pandemic. Due to uncertainty in expected patient numbers requiring care, as well as evolving needs day by day, planning hospital capacity is challenging. Health systems that are well prepared for the pandemic can better cope with large and sudden changes in demand by implementing strategies to ensure adequate access to care. Thereby the burden of the pandemic can be mitigated, and many lives saved. This report presents the J-IDEA pandemic planner, a hospital planning tool to calculate how much capacity in terms of beds, staff and ventilators is obtained by implementing healthcare provision interventions affecting the management of patient care in hospitals. We show how to assess baseline capacity, and then calculate how much capacity is gained by various healthcare interventions using impact estimates that are generated as part of this study. Interventions are informed by a rapid review of policy decisions implemented or being considered in 12 European countries over the past few months￼ , an evaluation of the impact of the interventions on capacity using a variety of research methods, and by a review of key parameters in the care of COVID-19 patients.The J-IDEA planner is publicly available, interactive and adaptable to different and changing circumstances and newly emerging evidence. The planner estimates the additional number of beds, medical staff and crucial medical equipment obtained under various healthcare interventions using flexible inputs on assumptions of existing capacities, the number of hospitalisations, beds-to-staff ratios, and staff absences due to COVID-19. A detailed user guide accompanies the planner. The planner was developed rapidly and has limitations which we will address in future iterations. It support
Slater HC, Foy BD, Kobylinski K, et al., 2020, Ivermectin as a novel complementary malaria control tool to reduce incidence and prevalence: a modelling study, Lancet Infectious Diseases, Vol: 20, Pages: 498-508, ISSN: 1473-3099
BACKGROUND: Ivermectin is a potential new vector control tool to reduce malaria transmission. Mosquitoes feeding on a bloodmeal containing ivermectin have a reduced lifespan, meaning they are less likely to live long enough to complete sporogony and become infectious. We aimed to estimate the effect of ivermectin on malaria transmission in various scenarios of use. METHODS: We validated an existing population-level mathematical model of the effect of ivermectin mass drug administration (MDA) on the mosquito population and malaria transmission against two datasets: clinical data from a cluster- randomised trial done in Burkina Faso in 2015 wherein ivermectin was given to individuals taller than 90 cm and entomological data from a study of mosquito outcomes after ivermectin MDA for onchocerciasis or lymphatic filariasis in Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Liberia between 2008 and 2013. We extended the existing model to include a range of complementary malaria interventions (seasonal malaria chemoprevention and MDA with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine) and to incorporate new data on higher doses of ivermectin with a longer mosquitocidal effect. We consider two ivermectin regimens: a single dose of 400 μg/kg (1 × 400 μg/kg) and three consecutive daily doses of 300 μg/kg per day (3 × 300 μg/kg). We simulated the effect of these two doses in a range of usage scenarios in different transmission settings (highly seasonal, seasonal, and perennial). We report percentage reductions in clinical incidence and slide prevalence. FINDINGS: We estimate that MDA with ivermectin will reduce prevalence and incidence and is most effective in areas with highly seasonal transmission. In a highly seasonal moderate transmission setting, three rounds of ivermectin only MDA at 3 × 300 μg/kg (rounds spaced 1 month apart) and 70% coverage is predicted to reduce clinical incidence by 71% and prevalence by 34%. We predict that adding ivermectin MDA to seasonal malaria ch
Flaxman S, Mishra S, Gandy A, et al., 2020, Report 13: Estimating the number of infections and the impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions on COVID-19 in 11 European countries
Following the emergence of a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and its spread outside of China, Europe is now experiencing large epidemics. In response, many European countries have implemented unprecedented non-pharmaceutical interventions including case isolation, the closure of schools and universities, banning of mass gatherings and/or public events, and most recently, widescale social distancing including local and national lockdowns. In this report, we use a semi-mechanistic Bayesian hierarchical model to attempt to infer the impact of these interventions across 11 European countries. Our methods assume that changes in the reproductive number – a measure of transmission - are an immediate response to these interventions being implemented rather than broader gradual changes in behaviour. Our model estimates these changes by calculating backwards from the deaths observed over time to estimate transmission that occurred several weeks prior, allowing for the time lag between infection and death. One of the key assumptions of the model is that each intervention has the same effect on the reproduction number across countries and over time. This allows us to leverage a greater amount of data across Europe to estimate these effects. It also means that our results are driven strongly by the data from countries with more advanced epidemics, and earlier interventions, such as Italy and Spain. We find that the slowing growth in daily reported deaths in Italy is consistent with a significant impact of interventions implemented several weeks earlier. In Italy, we estimate that the effective reproduction number, Rt, dropped to close to 1 around the time of lockdown (11th March), although with a high level of uncertainty. Overall, we estimate that countries have managed to reduce their reproduction number. Our estimates have wide credible intervals and contain 1 for countries that have implemented all interventions considered in our analysis. This means that the reproducti
Walker P, Whittaker C, Watson O, et al., 2020, Report 12: The global impact of COVID-19 and strategies for mitigation and suppression
The world faces a severe and acute public health emergency due to the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic. How individual countries respond in the coming weeks will be critical in influencing the trajectory of national epidemics. Here we combine data on age-specific contact patterns and COVID-19 severity to project the health impact of the pandemic in 202 countries. We compare predicted mortality impacts in the absence of interventions or spontaneous social distancing with what might be achieved with policies aimed at mitigating or suppressing transmission. Our estimates of mortality and healthcare demand are based on data from China and high-income countries; differences in underlying health conditions and healthcare system capacity will likely result in different patterns in low income settings. We estimate that in the absence of interventions, COVID-19 would have resulted in 7.0 billion infections and 40 million deaths globally this year. Mitigation strategies focussing on shielding the elderly (60% reduction in social contacts) and slowing but not interrupting transmission (40% reduction in social contacts for wider population) could reduce this burden by half, saving 20 million lives, but we predict that even in this scenario, health systems in all countries will be quickly overwhelmed. This effect is likely to be most severe in lower income settings where capacity is lowest: our mitigated scenarios lead to peak demand for critical care beds in a typical low-income setting outstripping supply by a factor of 25, in contrast to a typical high-income setting where this factor is 7. As a result, we anticipate that the true burden in low income settings pursuing mitigation strategies could be substantially higher than reflected in these estimates. Our analysis therefore suggests that healthcare demand can only be kept within manageable levels through the rapid adoption of public health measures (including testing and isolation of cases and wider social distancing meas
Ainslie K, Walters C, Fu H, et al., 2020, Report 11: Evidence of initial success for China exiting COVID-19 social distancing policy after achieving containment
The COVID-19 epidemic was declared a Global Pandemic by WHO on 11 March 2020. As of 20 March 2020, over 254,000 cases and 10,000 deaths had been reported worldwide. The outbreak began in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. In response to the fast-growing epidemic, China imposed strict social distancing in Wuhan on 23 January 2020 followed closely by similar measures in other provinces. At the peak of the outbreak in China (early February), there were between 2,000 and 4,000 new confirmed cases per day. For the first time since the outbreak began there have been no new confirmed cases caused by local transmission in China reported for five consecutive days up to 23 March 2020. This is an indication that the social distancing measures enacted in China have led to control of COVID-19 in China. These interventions have also impacted economic productivity in China, and the ability of the Chinese economy to resume without restarting the epidemic is not yet clear. Here, we estimate transmissibility from reported cases and compare those estimates with daily data on within-city movement, as a proxy for economic activity. Initially, within-city movement and transmission were very strongly correlated in the 5 provinces most affected by the epidemic and Beijing. However, that correlation is no longer apparent even though within-city movement has started to increase. A similar analysis for Hong Kong shows that intermediate levels of local activity can be maintained while avoiding a large outbreak. These results do not preclude future epidemics in China, nor do they allow us to estimate the maximum proportion of previous within-city activity that will be recovered in the medium term. However, they do suggest that after very intense social distancing which resulted in containment, China has successfully exited their stringent social distancing policy to some degree. Globally, China is at a more advanced stage of the pandemic. Policies implemented to reduce the spread of CO
Ferguson N, Laydon D, Nedjati Gilani G, et al., 2020, Report 9: Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID19 mortality and healthcare demand
The global impact of COVID-19 has been profound, and the public health threat it represents is the most serious seen in a respiratory virus since the 1918 H1N1 influenza pandemic. Here we present the results of epidemiological modelling which has informed policymaking in the UK and other countries in recent weeks. In the absence of a COVID-19 vaccine, we assess the potential role of a number of public health measures – so-called non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) – aimed at reducing contact rates in the population and thereby reducing transmission of the virus. In the results presented here, we apply a previously published microsimulation model to two countries: the UK (Great Britain specifically) and the US. We conclude that the effectiveness of any one intervention in isolation is likely to be limited, requiring multiple interventions to be combined to have a substantial impact on transmission. Two fundamental strategies are possible: (a) mitigation, which focuses on slowing but not necessarily stopping epidemic spread – reducing peak healthcare demand while protecting those most at risk of severe disease from infection, and (b) suppression, which aims to reverse epidemic growth, reducing case numbers to low levels and maintaining that situation indefinitely. Each policy has major challenges. We find that that optimal mitigation policies (combining home isolation of suspect cases, home quarantine of those living in the same household as suspect cases, and social distancing of the elderly and others at most risk of severe disease) might reduce peak healthcare demand by 2/3 and deaths by half. However, the resulting mitigated epidemic would still likely result in hundreds of thousands of deaths and health systems (most notably intensive care units) being overwhelmed many times over. For countries able to achieve it, this leaves suppression as the preferred policy option. We show that in the UK and US context, suppression will minimally requi
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