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1.
S Afr Med J ; 111(10): 934-937, 2021 08 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1478412

ABSTRACT

Some clinicians prescribe ivermectin for COVID-19 despite a lack of support from any credible South African professional body. They argue that when faced by clinical urgency, weak signals of efficacy should trigger action if harm is unlikely. Several recent reviews found an apparent mortality benefit by including studies at high risk of bias and with active rather than placebo controls. If these studies are discounted, the pooled mortality effect is no longer statistically significant, and evidence of benefit is very weak. Relying on this evidence could cause clinical harm if used to justify vaccine hesitancy. Clinicians remain responsible for ensuring that guidance they follow is both legitimate and reliable. In the ivermectin debate, evidence-based medicine (EBM) principles have largely been ignored under the guise thatin a pandemic the 'rules are different', probably to the detriment of vulnerable patients and certainly to the detriment of the profession's image. Medical schools and professional interest groups are responsible for transforming EBM from a taught but seldom-used tool into a process of lifelong learning, promoting a consistent call for evidence-based and unconflicted debate integral to clinical practice.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/drug therapy , Ivermectin/administration & dosage , Practice Patterns, Physicians'/standards , /psychology , COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , Evidence-Based Medicine/standards , Humans , Ivermectin/adverse effects , Research Design , South Africa
2.
South African Medical Journal ; 111(6):554-558, 2021.
Article in English | EMBASE | ID: covidwho-1264648

ABSTRACT

Access to COVID-19 vaccines has raised concerns globally. Despite calls for solidarity and social justice during the pandemic, vaccine nationalism, stockpiling of limited vaccine supplies by high-income countries and profit-driven strategies of global pharmaceutical manufacturers have brought into sharp focus global health inequities and the plight of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) as they wait in line for restricted tranches of vaccines. Even in high-income countries that received vaccine supplies first, vaccine roll-out globally has been fraught with logistic and ethical challenges. South Africa (SA) is no exception. Flawed global institutional strategies for vaccine distribution and delivery have undermined public procurement platforms, leaving LMICs facing disproportionate shortages necessitating strict criteria for vaccine prioritisation. In anticipation of our first consignment of vaccines, deliberations around phase 1 roll-out were intense and contentious. Although the first phase focuses on healthcare personnel (HCP), the devil is in the detail. Navigating the granularity of prioritising different categories of risk in healthcare sectors in SA is complicated by definitions of risk in personal and occupational contexts. The inequitable public-private divide that characterises the SA health system adds another layer of complexity. Unlike other therapeutic or preventive interventions that are procured independently by the private health sector, COVID-19 vaccine procurement is currently limited to the SA government only, leaving HCP in the private sector dependent on central government allocation. Fair distribution among tertiary, secondary and primary levels of care is another consideration. Taking all these complexities into account, procedural and substantive ethical principles supporting a prioritisation approach are outlined. Within the constraints of suboptimal global health governance, LMICs must optimise progressive distribution of scarce vaccines to HCP at highest risk.

4.
Samj South African Medical Journal ; 110(11):1077-1080, 2020.
Article in English | Web of Science | ID: covidwho-979208

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic requires urgent decisions regarding treatment policy in the face of rapidly evolving evidence. In response, the South African Essential Medicines List Committee established a subcommittee to systematically review and appraise emerging evidence, within very short timelines, in order to inform the National Department of Health COVID-19 treatment guidelines. To date, the subcommittee has reviewed 14 potential treatments, and made recommendations based on local context, feasibility, resource requirements and equity. Here we describe the rapid review and evidence-to-decision process, using remdesivir and dexamethasone as examples. Our experience is that conducting rapid reviews is a practical and efficient way to address medicine policy questions under pandemic conditions.

5.
South African Medical Journal ; 2020.
Article in English | AIM (Africa) | ID: covidwho-864951

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic requires urgent decisions regarding treatment policy in the face of rapidly evolving evidence. In response, the South African Essential Medicines List Committee established a subcommittee to systematically review and appraise emerging evidence, within very short timelines, in order to inform the National Department of Health COVID-19 treatment guidelines. To date, the subcommittee has reviewed 14 potential treatments, and made recommendations based on local context, feasibility, resource requirements and equity. Here we describe the rapid review and evidence-to-decision process, using remdesivir and dexamethasone as examples. Our experience is that conducting rapid reviews is a practical and efficient way to address medicine policy questions under pandemic conditions.

6.
SAMJ: South African Medical Journal ; 110(7):1-5, 2020.
Article | WHO COVID | ID: covidwho-663359

ABSTRACT

Research is imperative in addressing the COVID-19 epidemic, both in the short and long term. Informed consent is a key pillar of research and should be central to the conduct of COVID-19 research. Yet a range of factors, including physical distancing requirements, risk of exposure and infection to research staff, and multiple pressures on the healthcare environment, have added layers of challenges to the consent process in COVID-19 patients. Internationally, the recognition that consent for COVID-19 research may be imperfect has led to a range of suggestions to ensure that research remains ethical. Drawing on these guidelines, we propose a consent process for COVID-19 research in the South African context that combines individual consent with delayed and proxy consent for individuals who may be temporarily incapacitated, combined with key principles that should be considered in the design of a consent process for COVID-19 research.

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