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1.
Health Policy Plan ; 2023 Apr 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2299065

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 represented an unprecedented challenge for health workers around the world, resulting in strong concerns about impacts on their psychological wellbeing. To inform on-going support and future preparedness activities, this study documented health workers' experiences, wellbeing, and coping throughout the first wave of the pandemic, in Burkina Faso, Senegal, and The Gambia. We collected data from 68 primarily clinical staff from the COVID-19 treatment, maternity, and emergency departments in 13 purposely hospitals and laboratories across the three countries. Following in-depth interviews via zoom (mid-May to September 2020), we regularly followed up via WhatsApp until the end of 2020. We used a mixed deductive and inductive coding approach, and a framework matrix to organize and analyse the material. All respondents initially assessed the situation as stressful and threatening. Major emotional reactions included fear of own infection, fear of being a risk to loved ones, guilt, compassion, and anxiety regarding the future. Many suffered from feeling left alone with the emerging crisis and feeling unvalued and unappreciated, particularly by their governments and ministries of health. Conversely, health workers drew much strength from support and valuation by direct supervisors and team members, and in part also by patients. We observed important heterogeneity between places of work and individual backgrounds. Respondents coped with the situation in various ways, particularly with strategies to manage adverse emotions, minimize infection risk and fortifying health, and find meaning in the adverse circumstances. Coping strategies were primarily grounded in own resources rather than institutional support. Over time, the situation normalised and fears diminished for most respondents. With a view towards emergency preparedness, our findings underline the value of participation and transparent communication, institutional support, and routine training to foster health workers' psychological preparedness, coping skill set, and resilience more generally.

2.
EMBO Rep ; 24(5): e57162, 2023 05 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2269718

ABSTRACT

Throughout the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, limited diagnostic capacities prevented sentinel testing, demonstrating the need for novel testing infrastructures. Here, we describe the setup of a cost-effective platform that can be employed in a high-throughput manner, which allows surveillance testing as an acute pandemic control and preparedness tool, exemplified by SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics in an academic environment. The strategy involves self-sampling based on gargling saline, pseudonymized sample handling, automated RNA extraction, and viral RNA detection using a semiquantitative multiplexed colorimetric reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) assay with an analytical sensitivity comparable with RT-qPCR. We provide standard operating procedures and an integrated software solution for all workflows, including sample logistics, analysis by colorimetry or sequencing, and communication of results. We evaluated factors affecting the viral load and the stability of gargling samples as well as the diagnostic sensitivity of the RT-LAMP assay. In parallel, we estimated the economic costs of setting up and running the test station. We performed > 35,000 tests, with an average turnover time of < 6 h from sample arrival to result announcement. Altogether, our work provides a blueprint for fast, sensitive, scalable, cost- and labor-efficient RT-LAMP diagnostics, which is independent of potentially limiting clinical diagnostics supply chains.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19 Testing , Clinical Laboratory Techniques/methods , Pandemics/prevention & control , Sensitivity and Specificity , RNA, Viral/genetics
3.
Eur J Health Econ ; 2023 Jan 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2174414

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: The COVID-19 pandemic has entered its third year and continues to affect most countries worldwide. Active surveillance, i.e. testing individuals irrespective of symptoms, presents a promising strategy to accurately measure the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2. We aimed to identify the most cost-effective active surveillance strategy for COVID-19 among the four strategies tested in a randomised control trial between 18th November 2020 and 23rd December 2020 in Germany. The four strategies included: (A1) direct testing of individuals; (A2) direct testing of households; (B1) testing conditioned on upstream COVID-19 symptom pre-screening of individuals; and (B2) testing conditioned on upstream COVID-19 symptom pre-screening of households. METHODS: We adopted a health system perspective and followed an activity-based approach to costing. Resource consumption data were collected prospectively from a digital individual database, daily time records, key informant interviews and direct observations. Our cost-effectiveness analysis compared each strategy with the status quo and calculated the average cost-effective ratios (ACERs) for one primary outcome (sample tested) and three secondary outcomes (responder recruited, case detected and asymptomatic case detected). RESULTS: Our results showed that A2, with cost per sample tested at 52,89 EURO, had the lowest ACER for the primary outcome, closely followed by A1 (63,33 EURO). This estimate was much higher for both B1 (243,84 EURO) and B2 (181,06 EURO). CONCLUSION: A2 (direct testing at household level) proved to be the most cost-effective of the four evaluated strategies and should be considered as an option to strengthen the routine surveillance system in Germany and similar settings.

4.
SSM Qual Res Health ; 2: 100140, 2022 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1967154

ABSTRACT

Antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for SARS-CoV-2 have good reliability and have been repeatedly implemented as part of pandemic response policies, especially for screening in high-risk settings (e.g., hospitals and care homes) where fast recognition of an infection is essential. However, evidence from actual implementation efforts and associated experiences is lacking. We conducted a qualitative study at a large tertiary care hospital in Germany to identify step-by-step processes when implementing RDTs for the screening of incoming patients, as well as stakeholders' implementation experiences. We relied on 30 in-depth interviews with hospital staff (members of the regulatory body, department heads, staff working on the wards, staff training providers on how to perform RDTs, and providers performing RDTs as part of the screening) and patients being screened with RDTs. Despite some initial reservations, RDTs were rapidly accepted and adopted as the best available tool for accessible and reliable screening. Decentralized implementation efforts resulted in different procedures being operationalized across departments. Procedures were continuously refined based on initial experiences (e.g., infrastructural or scheduling constraints), pandemic dynamics (growing infection rates), and changing regulations (e.g., screening of all external personnel). To reduce interdepartmental tension, stakeholders recommended high-level, consistently communicated and enforced regulations. Despite challenges, RDT-based screening for all incoming patients was observed to be feasible and acceptable among implementers and patients, and merits continued consideration in the context of high infection and stagnating vaccination rates.

6.
BMC Health Serv Res ; 22(1): 340, 2022 Mar 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1745458

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Since climate change, pandemics and population mobility are challenging healthcare systems, an empirical and integrative research to studying and help improving the health systems resilience is needed. We present an interdisciplinary and mixed-methods research protocol, ClimHB, focusing on vulnerable localities in Bangladesh and Haiti, two countries highly sensitive to global changes. We develop a protocol studying the resilience of the healthcare system at multiple levels in the context of climate change and variability, population mobility and the Covid-19 pandemic, both from an institutional and community perspective. METHODS: The conceptual framework designed is based on a combination of Levesque's Health Access Framework and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office's Resilience Framework to address both outputs and the processes of resilience of healthcare systems. It uses a mixed-method sequential exploratory research design combining multi-sites and longitudinal approaches. Forty clusters spread over four sites will be studied to understand the importance of context, involving more than 40 healthcare service providers and 2000 households to be surveyed. We will collect primary data through questionnaires, in-depth and semi-structured interviews, focus groups and participatory filming. We will also use secondary data on environmental events sensitive to climate change and potential health risks, healthcare providers' functioning and organisation. Statistical analyses will include event-history analyses, development of composite indices, multilevel modelling and spatial analyses. DISCUSSION: This research will generate inter-disciplinary evidence and thus, through knowledge transfer activities, contribute to research on low and middle-income countries (LMIC) health systems and global changes and will better inform decision-makers and populations.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Research Design , Bangladesh/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Delivery of Health Care , Haiti/epidemiology , Humans , Pandemics
7.
Trials ; 22(1): 656, 2021 Sep 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1440949

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: To achieve higher effectiveness in population-based SARS-CoV-2 surveillance and to reliably predict the course of an outbreak, screening, and monitoring of infected individuals without major symptoms (about 40% of the population) will be necessary. While current testing capacities are also used to identify such asymptomatic cases, this rather passive approach is not suitable in generating reliable population-based estimates of the prevalence of asymptomatic carriers to allow any dependable predictions on the course of the pandemic. METHODS: This trial implements a two-factorial, randomized, controlled, multi-arm, prospective, interventional, single-blinded design with cluster sampling and four study arms, each representing a different SARS-CoV-2 testing and surveillance strategy based on individuals' self-collection of saliva samples which are then sent to and analyzed by a laboratory. The targeted sample size for the trial is 10,000 saliva samples equally allocated to the four study arms (2500 participants per arm). Strategies differ with respect to tested population groups (individuals vs. all household members) and testing approach (without vs. with pre-screening survey). The trial is complemented by an economic evaluation and qualitative assessment of user experiences. Primary outcomes include costs per completely screened person, costs per positive case, positive detection rate, and precision of positive detection rate. DISCUSSION: Systems for active surveillance of the general population will gain more importance in the context of pandemics and related disease prevention efforts. The pandemic parameters derived from such active surveillance with routine population monitoring therefore not only enable a prospective assessment of the short-term course of a pandemic, but also a more targeted and thus more effective use of local and short-term countermeasures. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov DRKS00023271 . Registered November 30, 2020, with the German Clinical Trials Register (Deutsches Register Klinischer Studien).


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19 Testing , Cost-Benefit Analysis , Humans , Population Groups , Prospective Studies , Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic , Treatment Outcome
8.
Trials ; 22(1): 39, 2021 Jan 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1440947

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: In this cluster-randomised controlled study (CoV-Surv Study), four different "active" SARS-CoV-2 testing strategies for general population surveillance are evaluated for their effectiveness in determining and predicting the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infections in a given population. In addition, the costs and cost-effectiveness of the four surveillance strategies will be assessed. Further, this trial is supplemented by a qualitative component to determine the acceptability of each strategy. Findings will inform the choice of the most effective, acceptable and affordable strategy for SARS-CoV-2 surveillance, with the most effective and cost-effective strategy becoming part of the local public health department's current routine health surveillance activities. Investigating its everyday performance will allow us to examine the strategy's applicability to real time prevalence prediction and the usefulness of the resulting information for local policy makers to implement countermeasures that effectively prevent future nationwide lockdowns. The authors would like to emphasize the importance and relevance of this study and its expected findings in the context of population-based disease surveillance, especially in respect to the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. In Germany, but also in many other countries, COVID-19 surveillance has so far largely relied on passive surveillance strategies that identify individuals with clinical symptoms, monitor those cases who then tested positive for the virus, followed by tracing of individuals in close contact to those positive cases. To achieve higher effectiveness in population surveillance and to reliably predict the course of an outbreak, screening and monitoring of infected individuals without major symptoms (about 40% of the population) will be necessary. While current testing capacities are also used to identify such asymptomatic cases, this rather passive approach is not suitable in generating reliable population-based estimates of the prevalence of asymptomatic carriers to allow any dependable predictions on the course of the pandemic. To better control and manage the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, current strategies therefore need to be complemented by an active surveillance of the wider population, i.e. routinely conducted testing and monitoring activities to identify and isolate infected individuals regardless of their clinical symptoms. Such active surveillance strategies will enable more effective prevention of the spread of the virus as they can generate more precise population-based parameters during a pandemic. This essential information will be required in order to determine the best strategic and targeted short-term countermeasures to limit infection spread locally. TRIAL DESIGN: This trial implements a cluster-randomised, two-factorial controlled, prospective, interventional, single-blinded design with four study arms, each representing a different SARS-CoV-2 testing and surveillance strategy. PARTICIPANTS: Eligible are individuals age 7 years or older living in Germany's Rhein-Neckar Region who consent to provide a saliva sample (all four arms) after completion of a brief questionnaire (two arms only). For the qualitative component, different samples of study participants and non-participants (i.e. eligible for study, but refuse to participate) will be identified for additional interviews. For these interviews, only individuals age 18 years or older are eligible. INTERVENTION AND COMPARATOR: Of the four surveillance strategies to be assessed and compared, Strategy A1 is considered the gold standard for prevalence estimation and used to determine bias in other arms. To determine the cost-effectiveness, each strategy is compared to status quo, defined as the currently practiced passive surveillance approach. Strategy A1: Individuals (one per household) receive information and study material by mail with instructions on how to produce a saliva sample and how to return the sample by mail. Once received by the laboratory, the sample is tested for SARS-CoV-2 using Reverse Transcription Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (RT-LAMP). Strategy A2: Individuals (one per household) receive information and study material by mail with instructions on how to produce their own as well as saliva samples from each household member and how to return these samples by mail. Once received by the laboratory, the samples are tested for SARS-CoV-2 using RT-LAMP. Strategy B1: Individuals (one per household) receive information by mail on how to complete a brief pre-screening questionnaire which asks about COVID-19 related clinical symptoms and risk exposures. Only individuals whose pre-screening score crosses a defined threshold, will then receive additional study material by mail with instructions on how to produce a saliva sample and how to return the sample by mail. Once received by the laboratory, the saliva sample is tested for SARS-CoV-2 using RT-LAMP. Strategy B2: Individuals (one per household) receive information by mail on how to complete a brief pre-screening questionnaire which asks about COVID-19 related clinical symptoms. Only individuals whose pre-screening score crosses a defined threshold, will then receive additional study material by mail with instructions how to produce their own as well as saliva samples from each household member and how to return these samples by mail. Once received by the laboratory, the samples are tested for SARS-CoV-2 using RT-LAMP. In each strategy, RT-LAMP positive samples are additionally analyzed with qPCR in order to minimize the number of false positives. MAIN OUTCOMES: The identification of the one best strategy will be determined by a set of parameters. Primary outcomes include costs per correctly screened person, costs per positive case, positive detection rate, and precision of positive detection rate. Secondary outcomes include participation rate, costs per asymptomatic case, prevalence estimates, number of asymptomatic cases per study arm, ratio of symptomatic to asymptomatic cases per study arm, participant satisfaction. Additional study components (not part of the trial) include cost effectiveness of each of the four surveillance strategies compared to passive monitoring (i.e. status quo), development of a prognostic model to predict hospital utilization caused by SARS-CoV-2, time from test shipment to test application and time from test shipment to test result, and perception and preferences of the persons to be tested with regard to test strategies. RANDOMISATION: Samples are drawn in three batches of three continuous weeks. Randomisation follows a two-stage process. First, a total of 220 sampling points have been allocated to the three different batches. To obtain an integer solution, the Cox-algorithm for controlled rounding has been used. Afterwards, sample points have been drawn separately per batch, following a probability proportional to size (PPS) random sample. Second, for each cluster the same number of residential addresses is randomly sampled from the municipal registries (self-weighted sample of individuals). The 28,125 addresses drawn per municipality are then randomly allocated to the four study arms A1, A2, B1, and B2 in the ratio 5 to 2.5 to 14 to 7 based on the expected response rates in each arm and the sensitivity and specificity of the pre-screening tool as applied in strategy B1 and B2. Based on the assumptions, this allocation should yield 2500 saliva samples in each strategy. Although a municipality can be sampled by multiple batches and the overall number of addresses per municipality might vary, the number of addresses contacted in each arm is kept constant. BLINDING (MASKING): The design is single-blinded, meaning the staff conducting the SARS-CoV-2 tests are unaware of the study arm assignment of each single participant and test sample. SAMPLE SIZES: Total sample size for the trial is 10,000 saliva samples equally allocated to the four study arms (i.e. 2,500 participants per arm). For the qualitative component, up to 60 in-depth interviews will be conducted with about 30 study participants (up to 15 in each arm A and B) and 30 participation refusers (up to 15 in each arm A and B) purposefully selected from the quantitative study sample to represent a variety of gender and ages to explore experiences with admission or rejection of study participation. Up to 25 asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 positive study participants will be purposefully selected to explore the way in which asymptomatic men and women diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 give meaning to their diagnosis and to the dialectic between feeling concurrently healthy and yet also being at risk for transmitting COVID-19. In addition, 100 randomly selected study participants will be included to explore participants' perspective on testing processes and implementation. TRIAL STATUS: Final protocol version is "Surveillance_Studienprotokoll_03Nov2020_v1_2" from November 3, 2020. Recruitment started November 18, 2020 and is expected to end by or before December 31, 2020. TRIAL REGISTRATION: The trial is currently being registered with the German Clinical Trials Register (Deutsches Register Klinischer Studien), DRKS00023271 ( https://www.drks.de/drks_web/navigate.do?navigationId=trial . HTML&TRIAL_ID=DRKS00023271). Retrospectively registered 30 November 2020. FULL PROTOCOL: The full protocol is attached as an additional file, accessible from the Trials website (Additional file 1). In the interest in expediting dissemination of this material, the familiar formatting has been eliminated; this Letter serves as a summary of the key elements of the full protocol.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/economics , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/economics , Health Care Costs , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques/economics , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques/economics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Saliva/virology , Surveys and Questionnaires/economics , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Cost-Benefit Analysis , Female , Germany/epidemiology , Humans , Male , Population Surveillance , Predictive Value of Tests , Prevalence , Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic , Reproducibility of Results , Single-Blind Method
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