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EXPLORE IDM’S CURRENT RESEARCH PUBLICATIONS

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Monisha Sharma, PhD, Edinah Mudimu, PhD Kate Simeon, MD, Anna Bershteyn, PhD, Jienchi Dorward, MBChB, Lauren R Violette, MPH, Adam Akullian, PhD, Prof Salim S Abdool Karim, MBBCH, Prof Connie Celum, MD, Nigel Garrett, MBBS, Paul K Drain, MD

THE LANCET HIV

Background
The number of people on antiretroviral therapy (ART) requiring treatment monitoring in low-resource settings is rapidly increasing. Point-of-care (POC) testing for ART monitoring might alleviate burden on centralised laboratories and improve clinical outcomes, but its cost-effectiveness is unknown.


Methods
We used cost and effectiveness data from the STREAM trial in South Africa (February, 2017–October, 2018), which evaluated POC testing for viral load, CD4 count, and creatinine, with task shifting from professional to lower-cadre registered nurses compared with laboratory-based testing without task shifting (standard of care). We parameterised an agent-based network model, EMOD-HIV, to project the impact of implementing this intervention in South Africa over 20 years, simulating approximately 175 000 individuals per run. We assumed POC monitoring increased viral suppression by 9 percentage points, enrolment into community-based ART delivery by 25 percentage points, and switching to second-line ART by 1 percentage point compared with standard of care, as reported in the STREAM trial. We evaluated POC implementation in varying clinic sizes (10–50 patient initiating ART per month). We calculated incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) and report the mean and 90% model variability of 250 runs, using a cost-effectiveness threshold of US$500 per disability-adjusted life-year (DALY) averted for our main analysis.


Findings
POC testing at 70% coverage of patients on ART was projected to reduce HIV infections by 4·5% (90% model variability 1·6 to 7·6) and HIV-related deaths by 3·9% (2·0 to 6·0). In clinics with 30 ART initiations per month, the intervention had an ICER of $197 (90% model variability –27 to 863) per DALY averted; results remained cost-effective when varying background viral suppression, ART dropout, intervention effectiveness, and reduction in HIV transmissibility. At higher clinic volumes (≥40 ART initiations per month), POC testing was cost-saving and at lower clinic volumes (20 ART initiations per month) the ICER was $734 (93 to 2569). A scenario that assumed POC testing did not increase enrolment into community ART delivery produced ICERs that exceeded the cost-effectiveness threshold for all clinic volumes.


Interpretation
POC testing is a promising strategy to cost-effectively improve patient outcomes in moderately sized clinics in South Africa. Results are most sensitive to changes in intervention impact on enrolment into community-based ART delivery.


Funding
National Institutes of Health.

BMC HEALTH SERVICES RESEARCH

Background

Malaria incidence has plateaued in Sub-Saharan Africa despite Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention’s (SMC) introduction. Community health workers (CHW) use a door-to-door delivery strategy to treat children with SMC drugs, but for SMC to be as effective as in clinical trials, coverage must be high over successive seasons.

Methods

We developed and used a microplanning model that utilizes population raster to estimate population size, generates optimal households visit itinerary, and quantifies SMC coverage based on CHWs’ time investment for treatment and walking. CHWs’ performance under current SMC deployment mode was assessed using CHWs’ tracking data and compared to microplanning in villages with varying demographics and geographies.

Results

Estimates showed that microplanning significantly reduces CHWs’ walking distance by 25%, increases the number of visited households by 36% (p < 0.001) and increases SMC coverage by 21% from 37.3% under current SMC deployment mode up to 58.3% under microplanning (p < 0.001). Optimal visit itinerary alone increased SMC coverage up to 100% in small villages whereas in larger or hard-to-reach villages, filling the gap additionally needed an optimization of the CHW ratio.

Conclusion

We estimate that for a pair of CHWs, the daily optimal number of visited children (assuming 8.5mn spent per child) and walking distance should not exceed 45 (95% CI 27–62) and 5 km (95% CI 3.2–6.2) respectively. Our work contributes to extend SMC coverage by 21–63% and may have broader applicability for other community health programs.

Nick Scott, Anna Palmer, Dominic Delport, Romesh Abeysuriya, Robyn M Stuart, Cliff C Kerr, Dina Mistry, Daniel J Klein, Rachel Sacks-Davis, Katie Heath, Samuel W Hainsworth, Alisa Pedrana, Mark Stoove, David Wilson, Margaret E Hellard 

MJA

Objectives

To assess the risks associated with relaxing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-related physical distancing restrictions and lockdown policies during a period of low viral transmission.

Design

Network-based viral transmission risks in households, schools, workplaces, and a variety of community spaces and activities were simulated in an agent-based model, Covasim.

Setting

The model was calibrated for a baseline scenario reflecting the epidemiological and policy environment in Victoria during March–May 2020, a period of low community viral transmission.

Intervention

Policy changes for easing COVID-19-related restrictions from May 2020 were simulated in the context of interventions that included testing, contact tracing (including with a smartphone app), and quarantine.

Main outcome measure

Increase in detected COVID-19 cases following relaxation of restrictions.

Results

Policy changes that facilitate contact of individuals with large numbers of unknown people (eg, opening bars, increased public transport use) were associated with the greatest risk of COVID-19 case numbers increasing; changes leading to smaller, structured gatherings with known contacts (eg, small social gatherings, opening schools) were associated with lower risks. In our model, the rise in case numbers following some policy changes was notable only two months after their implementation.

Conclusions

Removing several COVID-19-related restrictions within a short period of time should be undertaken with care, as the consequences may not be apparent for more than two months. Our findings support continuation of work from home policies (to reduce public transport use) and strategies that mitigate the risk associated with re-opening of social venues.

Andrew L. Valesano, Mami Taniuchi, William J.Fitzsimmons, Mdm OhedulIslam, Tahmina Ahmed, Khalequ Zaman, Rashidul Haque, WesleyWong, Michael Famulare, Adam S.Lauring

SCIENCEDIRECT

The emergence of circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses through evolution of the oral polio vaccine (OPV) poses a significant obstacle to polio eradication. Understanding the early genetic changes that occur as OPV evolves and transmits is important for preventing future outbreaks. Here, we use deep sequencing to define the evolutionary trajectories of type 2 OPV in a vaccine trial. By sequencing 497 longitudinal stool samples from 271 OPV2 recipients and household contacts, we were able to examine the extent of convergent evolution in vaccinated individuals and the amount of viral diversity that is transmitted. In addition to rapid reversion of key attenuating mutations, we identify strong selection at 19 sites across the genome. We find that a tight transmission bottleneck limits the onward transmission of these early adaptive mutations. Our results highlight the distinct evolutionary dynamics of live attenuated virus vaccines and have important implications for the success of next-generation OPV.

Amelie O von Saint Andre-von Arnim, Rashmi K Kumar, Assaf P. Oron, Quynh-Uyen P Nguyen, Daniel M Mutonga, Jerry Zimmerman, Judd L Walson 

PEDIATRIC CRITICAL CARE MEDICINE

Objectives: To determine the feasibility of having caregivers assist in recognition of clinical deterioration in children hospitalized with febrile illness in a resource-limited setting.

Design: Single-center, prospective, interventional pilot study.

Setting: General pediatric wards at Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya's largest public tertiary-care hospital.

Patients: Children hospitalized with acute febrile illness, accompanied by caregivers available at the bedside for 24 hours soon after hospital admission.

Interventions: Caregivers were trained to recognize signs of critical illness using the Family-Assisted Severe Febrile Illness Therapy tool, which quantifies patients' work of breathing, mental status, and perfusion, producing color-coded flags to signal illness severity. Caregivers' Family-Assisted Severe Febrile Illness Therapy assessments were compared with healthcare professional assessments and to established Pediatric Early Warning Scores (PEWS). An initial study stage was followed by refinement of training and a larger second stage with intervention/control arms.

Measurements and main results: A total of 107 patient/caregiver pairs were enrolled in the interventional arm; 106 caregivers underwent Family-Assisted Severe Febrile Illness Therapy training and were included in the analysis. Patient characteristics included median age 1.1 years (0.2-10 yr), 55 (52%) female, and diagnoses: pneumonia (64 [60%]), meningitis (38 [36%]), gastroenteritis (24 [23%]), and malaria (21 [20%]). Most caregivers had primary (34 [32%]) or secondary (53 [50%]) school education. Fourteen of 106 patients (13%) died during their stay, six within 2 days. Across all severity levels, caregiver Family-Assisted Severe Febrile Illness Therapy assessments matched professionals in 87% and 94% for stages 1 and 2, respectively. Caregiver Family-Assisted Severe Febrile Illness Therapy assessments had a moderate to strong correlation with coinciding Pediatric Early Warning Scores and were sensitive to life-threatening deterioration: for all six patients who died within 2 days of admission, caregiver assessment reached the highest alert level.

Conclusions: Caregiver involvement in recognition of critical illness in hospitalized children in low-resource settings may be feasible. This may facilitate earlier detection of clinical deterioration where staffing is severely limited by constrained resources. Further validation of the Family-Assisted Severe Febrile Illness Therapy tool is warranted, followed by its application in a larger multisite patient population to assess provider response and associated clinical outcomes.

Victoria Nembaware, Gaston K. Mazandu, Jade Hotchkiss, Jean-Michel Safari Serufuri, Jill Kent, Andre Pascal Kengne, Kofi Anie, Nchangwi Syntia Munung, Daima Bukini, Valentina Josiane Ngo Bitoungui, Deogratias Munube, Uzima Chirwa, Catherine Chunda-Liyoka, Agnes Jonathan, Miriam V. Flor-Park, Kevin Kum Esoh, Mario Jonas, Khuthala Mnika, Chandré Oosterwyk, Upendo Masamu, Jack Morrice, Annette Uwineza, Arthemon Nguweneza, Kambe Banda, Isaac Nyanor, David Nana Adjei, Nathan Edward Siebu, Malula Nkanyemka, Patience Kuona, Bamidele O. Tayo, Andrew Campbell, Assaf P. Oron, Obiageli E. Nnodu, Vivian Painstil, Julie Makani, Nicola Mulder, Ambroise Wonkam

OMICS

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is one of the most common blood disorders impacting planetary health. Over 300,000 newborns are diagnosed with SCD each year globally, with an increasing trend. The sickle cell disease ontology (SCDO) is the most comprehensive multidisciplinary SCD knowledge portal. The SCDO was collaboratively developed by the SCDO working group, which includes experts in SCD and data standards from across the globe. This expert review presents highlights and lessons learned from the fourth SCDO workshop that marked the beginning of applications toward planetary health impact, and with an eye to empower and cultivate multisite SCD collaborative research. The workshop was organized by the Sickle Africa Data Coordinating Center (SADaCC) and attended by 44 participants from 14 countries, with 2 participants connecting remotely. Notably, from the standpoint of democratizing and innovating scientific meeting design, an SCD patient advocate also presented at the workshop, giving a broader real-life perspective on patients' aspirations, needs, and challenges. A major component of the workshop was new approaches to harness SCDO to harmonize data elements used by different studies. This was facilitated by a web-based platform onto which participants uploaded data elements from previous or ongoing SCD-relevant research studies before the workshop, making multisite collaborative research studies based on existing SCD data possible, including multisite cohort, SCD global clinical trials, and SCD community engagement approaches. Trainees presented proposals for systematic literature reviews in key SCD research areas. This expert review emphasizes potential and prospects of SCDO-enabled data standards and harmonization to facilitate large-scale global SCD collaborative initiatives. As the fields of public and global health continue to broaden toward planetary health, the SCDO is well poised to play a prominent role to decipher SCD pathophysiology further, and co-design diagnostics and therapeutics innovation in the field.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES

Background

Absolute numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths reported to date in the sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region have been significantly lower than those across the Americas, Asia, and Europe. As a result, there has been limited information about the demographic and clinical characteristics of deceased cases in the region, as well as the impacts of different case management strategies.

Methods

Data from deceased cases reported across SSA through May 10, 2020 and from hospitalized cases in Burkina Faso through April 15, 2020 were analyzed. Demographic, epidemiological, and clinical information on deceased cases in SSA was derived through a line-list of publicly available information and, for cases in Burkina Faso, from aggregate records at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Tengandogo in Ouagadougou. A synthetic case population was derived probabilistically using distributions of age, sex, and underlying conditions from populations of West African countries to assess individual risk factors and treatment effect sizes. Logistic regression analysis was conducted to evaluate the adjusted odds of survival for patients receiving oxygen therapy or convalescent plasma, based on therapeutic effectiveness observed for other respiratory illnesses.

Results

Across SSA, deceased cases for which demographic data are available have been predominantly male (63/103, 61.2%) and over 50 years of age (59/75, 78.7%). In Burkina Faso, specifically, the majority of deceased cases either did not seek care at all or were hospitalized for a single day (59.4%, 19/32); hypertension and diabetes were often reported as underlying conditions. After adjustment for sex, age, and underlying conditions in the synthetic case population, the odds of mortality for cases not receiving oxygen therapy was significantly higher than those receiving oxygen, such as due to disruptions to standard care (OR: 2.07; 95% CI: 1.56 – 2.75). Cases receiving convalescent plasma had 50% reduced odds of mortality than those who did not (95% CI: 0.24 – 0.93).

Conclusions

Investment in sustainable production and maintenance of supplies for oxygen therapy, along with messaging around early and appropriate use for healthcare providers, caregivers, and patients could reduce COVID-19 deaths in SSA. Further investigation into convalescent plasma is warranted, as data on its effectiveness specifically in treating COVID-19 becomes available. The success of supportive or curative clinical interventions will depend on earlier treatment seeking, such that community engagement and risk communication will be critical components of the response.

Jasmina Panovska-Griffiths, DPhil, Cliff C Kerr, PhD, Robyn M Stuart, PhD, Dina Mistry, PhD, Daniel J Klein, PhD, Russell M Viner, PhD, Chris Bonell, PhD 

THE LANCET CHILD & ADOLESCENT HEALTH

Background

As lockdown measures to slow the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection begin to ease in the UK, it is important to assess the impact of any changes in policy, including school reopening and broader relaxation of physical distancing measures. We aimed to use an individual-based model to predict the impact of two possible strategies for reopening schools to all students in the UK from September, 2020, in combination with different assumptions about relaxation of physical distancing measures and the scale-up of testing.

Methods

In this modelling study, we used Covasim, a stochastic individual-based model for transmission of SARS-CoV-2, calibrated to the UK epidemic. The model describes individuals' contact networks stratified into household, school, workplace, and community layers, and uses demographic and epidemiological data from the UK. We simulated six different scenarios, representing the combination of two school reopening strategies (full time and a part-time rota system with 50% of students attending school on alternate weeks) and three testing scenarios (68% contact tracing with no scale-up in testing, 68% contact tracing with sufficient testing to avoid a second COVID-19 wave, and 40% contact tracing with sufficient testing to avoid a second COVID-19 wave). We estimated the number of new infections, cases, and deaths, as well as the effective reproduction number (R) under different strategies. In a sensitivity analysis to account for uncertainties within the stochastic simulation, we also simulated infectiousness of children and young adults aged younger than 20 years at 50% relative to older ages (20 years and older).

Findings

With increased levels of testing (between 59% and 87% of symptomatic people tested at some point during an active SARS-CoV-2 infection, depending on the scenario), and effective contact tracing and isolation, an epidemic rebound might be prevented. Assuming 68% of contacts could be traced, we estimate that 75% of individuals with symptomatic infection would need to be tested and positive cases isolated if schools return full-time in September, or 65% if a part-time rota system were used. If only 40% of contacts could be traced, these figures would increase to 87% and 75%, respectively. However, without these levels of testing and contact tracing, reopening of schools together with gradual relaxing of the lockdown measures are likely to induce a second wave that would peak in December, 2020, if schools open full-time in September, and in February, 2021, if a part-time rota system were adopted. In either case, the second wave would result in R rising above 1 and a resulting second wave of infections 2·0–2·3 times the size of the original COVID-19 wave. When infectiousness of children and young adults was varied from 100% to 50% of that of older ages, we still found that a comprehensive and effective test–trace–isolate strategy would be required to avoid a second COVID-19 wave.

Interpretation

To prevent a second COVID-19 wave, relaxation of physical distancing, including reopening of schools, in the UK must be accompanied by large-scale, population-wide testing of symptomatic individuals and effective tracing of their contacts, followed by isolation of diagnosed individuals.

Funding

None.

Anna Bershteyn, Monisha Sharma, Adam Akullian, Kathryn Peebles, Supriya Sarkar, R Scott Braithwaite, Edinah Mudimu

JOURNAL OF THE INTERNATIONAL AIDS SOCIETY

Introduction

Over one hundred implementation studies of HIV pre‐exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) are completed, underway or planned. We synthesized evidence from these studies to inform mathematical modelling of the prevention cascade for oral and long‐acting PrEP in the setting of western Kenya, one of the world’s most heavily HIV‐affected regions.

Methods

We incorporated steps of the PrEP prevention cascade – uptake, adherence, retention and re‐engagement after discontinuation – into EMOD‐HIV, an open‐source transmission model calibrated to the demography and HIV epidemic patterns of western Kenya. Early PrEP implementation research from East Africa was used to parameterize prevention cascades for oral PrEP as currently implemented, delivery innovations for oral PrEP, and future long‐acting PrEP. We compared infections averted by PrEP at the population level for different cascade assumptions and sub‐populations on PrEP. Analyses were conducted over the 2020 to 2040 time horizon, with additional sensitivity analyses for the time horizon of analysis and the time when long‐acting PrEP becomes available.

Results

The maximum impact of oral PrEP diminished by over 98% across all prevention cascades, with the exception of long‐acting PrEP under optimistic assumptions about uptake and re‐engagement after discontinuation. Long‐acting PrEP had the highest population‐level impact, even after accounting for possible delays in product availability, primarily because its effectiveness does not depend on drug adherence. Retention was the most significant cascade step reducing the potential impact of long‐acting PrEP. These results were robust to assumptions about the sub‐populations receiving PrEP, but were highly influenced by assumptions about re‐initiation of PrEP after discontinuation, about which evidence was sparse.

Conclusions

Implementation challenges along the prevention cascade compound to diminish the population‐level impact of oral PrEP. Long‐acting PrEP is expected to be less impacted by user uptake and adherence, but it is instead dependent on product availability in the short term and retention in the long term. To maximize the impact of long‐acting PrEP, ensuring timely product approval and rollout is critical. Research is needed on strategies to improve retention and patterns of PrEP re‐initiation.

Assaf P. Oron, Dennis L. Chao, Echezona E. Ezeanolue, Loveth N. Ezenwa, Frédéric B. Piel, Osifo Telison Ojogun, Sophie Uyoga, Thomas N. Williams & Obiageli E. Nnodu 

BMC MEDICINE

Background

Most of the world’s sickle cell disease (SCD) burden is in Africa, where it is a major contributor to child morbidity and mortality. Despite the low cost of many preventive SCD interventions, insufficient resources have been allocated, and progress in alleviating the SCD burden has lagged behind other public-health efforts in Africa. The recent announcement of massive new funding for research into curative SCD therapies is encouraging in the long term, but over the next few decades, it is unlikely to help Africa’s SCD children substantially.

Main discussion

A major barrier to progress has been the absence of large-scale early-life screening. Most SCD deaths in Africa probably occur before cases are even diagnosed. In the last few years, novel inexpensive SCD point-of-care test kits have become widely available and have been deployed successfully in African field settings. These kits could potentially enable universal early SCD screening. Other recent developments are the expansion of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine towards near-universal coverage, and the demonstrated safety, efficacy, and increasing availability and affordability of hydroxyurea across the continent. Most elements of standard healthcare for SCD children that are already proven to work in the West, could and should now be implemented at scale in Africa. National and continental SCD research and care networks in Africa have also made substantial progress, assembling care guidelines and enabling the deployment and scale-up of SCD public-health systems. Substantial logistical, cultural, and awareness barriers remain, but with sufficient financial and political will, similar barriers have already been overcome in efforts to control other diseases in Africa.

Conclusion and recommendations

Despite remaining challenges, several high-SCD-burden African countries have the political will and infrastructure for the rapid implementation and scale-up of comprehensive SCD childcare programs. A globally funded effort starting with these countries and expanding elsewhere in Africa and to other high-burden countries, including India, could transform the lives of SCD children worldwide and help countries to attain their Sustainable Development Goals. This endeavor would also require ongoing research focused on the unique needs and challenges of SCD patients, and children in particular, in regions of high prevalence.