Recent Submissions

  • Interventions to increase vaccination against COVID-19, influenza and pertussis during pregnancy: a systematic review and meta-analysis

    Ravindram, Pahalavi (2023-12-28)
    Background: Pregnant women and their babies face significant risks from three vaccine-preventable diseases: COVID-19, influenza and pertussis. However, despite these vaccines' proven safety and effectiveness, uptake during pregnancy remains low. Methods: We conducted a systematic review (PROSPERO CRD42023399488; January 2012-December 2022 following PRISMA guidelines) of interventions to increase COVID-19/influenza/pertussis vaccination in pregnancy. We searched nine databases, including grey literature. Two independent investigators extracted data; discrepancies were resolved by consensus. Meta-analyses were conducted using random-effects models to estimate pooled effect sizes. Heterogeneity was assessed using the I2 statistics. Results: From 2681 articles, we identified 39 relevant studies (n = 168 262 participants) across nine countries. Fifteen studies (39%) were randomized controlled trials (RCTs); the remainder were observational cohort, quality-improvement or cross-sectional studies. The quality of 18% (7/39) was strong. Pooled results of interventions to increase influenza vaccine uptake (18 effect estimates from 12 RCTs) showed the interventions were effective but had a small effect (risk ratio = 1.07, 95% CI 1.03, 1.13). However, pooled results of interventions to increase pertussis vaccine uptake (10 effect estimates from six RCTs) showed no clear benefit (risk ratio = 0.98, 95% CI 0.94, 1.03). There were no relevant RCTs for COVID-19. Interventions addressed the 'three Ps': patient-, provider- and policy-level strategies. At the patient level, clear recommendations from healthcare professionals backed by text reminders/written information were strongly associated with increased vaccine uptake, especially tailored face-to-face interventions, which addressed women's concerns, dispelled myths and highlighted benefits. Provider-level interventions included educating healthcare professionals about vaccines' safety and effectiveness and reminders to offer vaccinations routinely. Policy-level interventions included financial incentives, mandatory vaccination data fields in electronic health records and ensuring easy availability of vaccinations. Conclusions: Interventions had a small effect on increasing influenza vaccination. Training healthcare providers to promote vaccinations during pregnancy is crucial and could be enhanced by utilizing mobile health technologies.
  • Quantifying hospital environmental ventilation using carbon dioxide monitoring - a multicentre study

    Pan, D (2023-12-07)
    The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of environmental ventilation in reducing airborne pathogen transmission. Carbon dioxide monitoring is recommended in the community to ensure adequate ventilation. Dynamic measurements of ventilation quantifying human exhaled waste gas accumulation are not conducted routinely in hospitals. Instead, environmental ventilation is allocated using static hourly air change rates. These vary according to the degree of perceived hazard, with the highest change rates reserved for locations where aerosol-generating procedures are performed, where medical/anaesthetic gases are used and where a small number of high-risk infective or immunocompromised patients may be isolated to reduce cross-infection. We aimed to quantify the quality and distribution of ventilation in hospital by measuring carbon dioxide levels in a two-phased prospective observational study. First, under controlled conditions, we validated our method and the relationship between human occupancy, ventilation and carbon dioxide levels using non-dispersive infrared carbon dioxide monitors. We then assessed ventilation quality in patient-occupied (clinical) and staff break and office (non-clinical) areas across two hospitals in Scotland. We selected acute medical and respiratory wards in which patients with COVID-19 are cared for routinely, as well as ICUs and operating theatres where aerosol-generating procedures are performed routinely. Between November and December 2022, 127,680 carbon dioxide measurements were obtained across 32 areas over 8 weeks. Carbon dioxide levels breached the 800 ppm threshold for 14% of the time in non-clinical areas vs. 7% in clinical areas (p < 0.001). In non-clinical areas, carbon dioxide levels were > 800 ppm for 20% of the time in both ICUs and wards, vs. 1% in operating theatres (p < 0.001). In clinical areas, carbon dioxide was > 800 ppm for 16% of the time in wards, vs. 0% in ICUs and operating theatres (p < 0.001). We conclude that staff break, office and clinical areas on acute medical and respiratory wards frequently had inadequate ventilation, potentially increasing the risks of airborne pathogen transmission to staff and patients. Conversely, ventilation was consistently high in the ICU and operating theatre clinical environments. Carbon dioxide monitoring could be used to measure and guide improvements in hospital ventilation.
  • Screening for tuberculosis infection and effectiveness of preventive treatment among people living with HIV in low-incidence settings: a systematic review and meta-analysis

    Pareek, Manish (2023-10-12)
    To determine the yield of screening for latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) among people living with HIV (PLHIV) in low tuberculosis (TB) incidence countries (<10 TB cases per 100.000 persons), we performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess prevalence and predictive factors of LTBI, rate of TB progression, effect of TB preventive treatment (TPT), and numbers needed to screen. Pubmed and Cochrane Library were searched for studies reporting primary data, excluding studies on active or pediatric TB. We extracted LTBI cases, odds ratios, and TB incidences; pooled estimates using a random-effects model; and used the Newcastle-Ottawa scale for bias. In 51 studies with 65.930 PLHIV, 12% (95% CI 10-14) had a positive LTBI test, which was strongly associated with origin from a TB-endemic country (OR 4.7) and exposure to TB (OR 2.9). Without TPT (10,629 PLHIV), TB incidence was 28/1000 person years (PY; 95% CI 12-45) for LTBI-test positive versus 4/1000 PY (95% CI 0-7) for LTBI-test negative individuals. Among 625 PLHIV (1644 PY) receiving TPT, 15 developed TB (6/1000 PY). An estimated 20 LTBI-positive individuals would need TPT to prevent one case of TB, and numbers needed to screen to detect LTBI or prevent active TB varied according to a priori risk of LTBI. The relatively high prevalence of LTBI among PLHIV and the strong correlation with origin from a TB-endemic country support risk-stratified LTBI screening strategies for PLHIV in low-incidence countries and treating those who test positive.
  • Pulling the plug on a pseudomonas outbreak: ancillary equipment as vectors of infection

    Veater, James; Manning, Claire; Mellon, John; Collins, Elizabeth; Jenkins, David (2023-08-08)
    Objectives: Outbreaks of infection related to flexible endoscopes are well described. However, flexible endoscopy also requires the use of ancillary equipment such as irrigation plugs. These are potential vectors of infection but are infrequently highlighted in the literature. We report a cystoscopy associated outbreak of Pseudomonas aeruginosa from contaminated irrigation plugs, in a UK tertiary care centre. Methods: Laboratory, clinical, and decontamination unit records were reviewed, and audits of the decontamination unit were performed. The flexible cystoscopes and irrigation plugs were assessed for contamination. Retrospective and prospective case finding was performed utilising the microbiology laboratory information management system. Available P.aeruginosa isolates underwent Variable Nucleotide Tandem Repeat (VNTR) typing. Confirmed cases were defined as P.aeruginosa infection with an identical VNTR profile to an outbreak strain. Results: Three strains of P.aeruginosa were isolated from five irrigation plugs, but none of the flexible cystoscopes. No acquired resistance mechanisms were detected. Fifteen confirmed infections occurred, including bacteraemia, septic arthritis and urinary tract infection. While failure of decontamination likely occurred because the plugs were not dismantled prior to reprocessing, the manufacturer's reprocessing instructions were also incompatible with standard UK practice. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) were informed. A field safety notice was issued, and the manufacturer issued updated reprocessing instructions. Conclusions: Ancillary equipment are important vectors for infection, and should be considered during outbreakinvestigations. Users should review the manufacturer's instructions for reprocessing ancillary equipment to ensure they are compatible with available procedures.
  • Lessons from the field: The role of agility in a coproduction project encompassing the COVID-19 pandemic

    Pritchard, Rebecca (2022-04-25)
    Aim: We reflect on our experiences of coproducing a redesigned, COVID-safe priority-setting activity at a time of shifting priorities and upheaval to gain insight into good practice. Method: The project team documented the experience of adapting to COVID-19 through the reflective project evaluation. We reflect on how COVID disrupted coproduction through radically shifting personal and professional priorities and the implications for good practice. Results: Our experiences highlighted the role of agility, management capacity, social capital and power in coproduction. Conclusions: COVID-19 disrupted and enabled coproduction, compounding tensions and serving as the basis to transcend them. The pandemic created new demands on institutions that initially prompted withdrawal to established power, and team members which redefined them in relation to each other. Shifting priorities and demands forced team members into new, and out of former, roles coming into conflict with enduring power dynamics articulating constructs of expertise and authority in the institutional structure. We consider how the tensions found expression: as governance and human resource concerns, problems with authorizing payments, challenges in institutionally accommodating community researchers and the exclusion of some from participation.
  • Latent tuberculosis screening and treatment in HIV: highly acceptable in a prospective cohort study

    White, Helena; Sahota, Amandip; Stephenson, Iain; Patel, Hemu; Wiselka, Martin; Pareek, Manish (2022-04-25)
    Background: People living with HIV (PLWH) are at increased risk of re-activation of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI). Although UK and international guidelines identify this group as a priority for LTBI screening and treatment, data on attitudes of PLWH to this policy recommendation are lacking. Methods: A five-point, Likert-style questionnaire was administered to PLWH to assess views and intentions towards accepting LTBI screening and treatment. Subsequent interferon-γ release assay (IGRA) testing was offered, and chemoprophylaxis if required. Influencing demographic and psychological associations with planned, and actual, testing and treatment uptake were assessed using multivariable logistic regression. Results: 444 out of 716 (62%) patients responded. 417 out of 437 (95.4%) expressed intention to accept LTBI testing. The only significant association was the perceived importance of testing to the individual (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 8.98, 95% CI 2.55-31.67). 390 out of 393 (99.2%) accepted appropriate IGRA screening; 41 out of 390 (10.5%) were positive. 397 out of 431 (92.1%) expressed intention to accept chemoprophylaxis, associated with perceived importance of treatment (aOR 3.52, 95% CI 1.46-8.51), a desire to have treatment for LTBI (aOR 1.77, 95% CI 0.99-3.15) and confidence in taking treatment (aOR 3.77, 95% CI 1.84-7.72). Of those offered chemoprophylaxis, 36 out of 37 (97.3%) accepted and 34 out of 36 (94.4%) completed treatment. There were no correlates with actual screening acceptance. Conclusions: LTBI is common amongst PLWH, highlighting the importance of robust screening and treatment programmes. This study shows that screening and treatment for LTBI is highly acceptable to PLWH and provides strong, objective evidence for policy-makers developing guidelines in this cohort.
  • Ten-year prevalence of acute hospital ENT infections and the impact of COVID: A large population study

    Jenkins, David; Rea, Peter (2023-01)
    Background: Acute ear, nose and throat (ENT) infections were the commonest referrals from accident and emergency to ENT services. The referral rate changed dramatically with season, year, national outbreaks and during the COVID pandemic. Method: Retrospective longitudinal study of the epidemiology of seven acute ENT infections in secondary care over 10 years. A mixed city and rural population of over 650 000 in central England was studied. The risk factors for each wave of infection during the surge of infection were sought. A statistical analysis of their significance was undertaken. This included analysis and correlation of group A-beta haemolytic streptococcus (GABHS) in hospital and community. Seasonal variations, hospital admissions and the impact of the COVID were analysed. Results: There were 16 883 reported cases of the seven index ENT infections during the 10-year period. Great seasonal and year-to-year variations were recorded. There was an incremental rise in 2018. Spring had the highest season of acute ENT infections. An outbreak of GABHS was noted in the community in 2014. The mean duration of hospital admission was 1.5 days. There was no statistical ethnic or gender predominance. A dramatically lower number of acute ENT infections were recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this continued after lifting of lockdown restrictions. Conclusion: A resurgence in scarlet fever directly and indirectly contributed to an incremental rise in acute ENT infections in the following years. Both hospital and community B-haemolytic cultures have declined during the COVID-19 pandemic due to a reduction in infections as opposed to reduced case ascertainment.
  • Use of perioperative prophylactic antibiotics following excision of ulcerated skin lesions in the UK: a national, multispeciality survey of clinicians

    Wernham, Aaron (2022-05)
    Skin cancer is the most common malignancy in the UK, and up to a third of lesions are ulcerated at the time of excision. Ulceration has been shown to increase the risk of developing surgical site infection following excision, with some studies finding infection rates of 33%. However, no specific guidelines for the use of antibiotic prophylaxis in such cases exist. We surveyed 129 clinicians (covering Dermatology, Plastic Surgery, Ear, Nose and Throat Surgery, and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery) who all excise skin lesions on a regular basis. There was significant variability in their practice with regard to antibiotic prophylaxis, with 9% always prescribing them and 19% never prescribing them. Variation exists both among and between specialities. This variation increases the risk of antimicrobial resistance and shows a paucity of good clinical evidence, indicating that a well-designed clinical trial is needed to guide future practice.
  • COVID-19 vaccination uptake amongst ethnic minority communities in England: a linked study exploring the drivers of differential vaccination rates

    Davies, Melanie; Zaccardi, Francesco
    BACKGROUND: Despite generally high coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination rates in the UK, vaccination hesitancy and lower take-up rates have been reported in certain ethnic minority communities. METHODS: We used vaccination data from the National Immunisation Management System (NIMS) linked to the 2011 Census and individual health records for subjects aged ≥40 years (n = 24 094 186). We estimated age-standardized vaccination rates, stratified by ethnic group and key sociodemographic characteristics, such as religious affiliation, deprivation, educational attainment, geography, living conditions, country of birth, language skills and health status. To understand the association of ethnicity with lower vaccination rates, we conducted a logistic regression model adjusting for differences in geographic, sociodemographic and health characteristics. ResultsAll ethnic groups had lower age-standardized rates of vaccination compared with the white British population, whose vaccination rate of at least one dose was 94% (95% CI: 94%-94%). Black communities had the lowest rates, with 75% (74-75%) of black African and 66% (66-67%) of black Caribbean individuals having received at least one dose. The drivers of these lower rates were partly explained by accounting for sociodemographic differences. However, modelled estimates showed significant differences remained for all minority ethnic groups, compared with white British individuals. CONCLUSIONS: Lower COVID-19 vaccination rates are consistently observed amongst all ethnic minorities.