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medrxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.09.16.21263684


Summary Background The COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed the respiratory isolation capacity in hospitals; many wards lacking high-frequency air changes have been repurposed for managing patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 requiring either standard or intensive care. Hospital-acquired COVID-19 is a recognised problem amongst both patients and staff, with growing evidence for the relevance of airborne transmission. This study examined the effect of air filtration and ultra-violet (UV) light sterilisation on detectable airborne SARS-CoV-2 and other microbial bioaerosols. Methods We conducted a crossover study of portable air filtration and sterilisation devices in a repurposed ‘surge’ COVID ward and ‘surge’ ICU. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) cyclonic aerosol samplers and PCR assays were used to detect the presence of airborne SARS-CoV-2 and other microbial bioaerosol with and without air/UV filtration. Results Airborne SARS-CoV-2 was detected in the ward on all five days before activation of air/UV filtration, but on none of the five days when the air/UV filter was operational; SARS-CoV-2 was again detected on four out of five days when the filter was off. Airborne SARS-CoV-2 was infrequently detected in the ICU. Filtration significantly reduced the burden of other microbial bioaerosols in both the ward (48 pathogens detected before filtration, two after, p =0.05) and the ICU (45 pathogens detected before filtration, five after p =0.05). Conclusions These data demonstrate the feasibility of removing SARS-CoV-2 from the air of repurposed ‘surge’ wards and suggest that air filtration devices may help reduce the risk of hospital-acquired SARS-CoV-2. Funding Wellcome Trust, MRC, NIHR

medrxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.06.26.20139873


Background Pandemic COVID-19 caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has a high incidence of patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Many of these patients require admission to an intensive care unit (ICU) for invasive artificial ventilation and are at significant risk of developing a secondary, ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). Objectives To study the incidence of VAP, as well as differences in secondary infections, and bacterial lung microbiome composition of ventilated COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. Methods In this prospective observational study, we compared the incidence of VAP and secondary infections using a combination of a TaqMan multi-pathogen array and microbial culture. In addition, we determined the lung microbime composition using 16S RNA analyisis. The study involved eighteen COVID-19 and seven non-COVID-19 patients receiving invasive ventilation in three ICUs located in a single University teaching hospital between April 13th 2020 and May 7th 2020. Results We observed a higher percentage of confirmed VAP in COVID-19 patients. However, there was no statistical difference in the detected organisms or pulmonary microbiome when compared to non-COVID-19 patients. Conclusion COVID-19 makes people more susceptible to developing VAP, partly but not entirely due to the increased duration of ventilation. The pulmonary dysbiosis caused by COVID-19, and the array of secondary infections observed are similar to that seen in critically ill patients ventilated for other reasons.

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medrxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.06.02.20118489


Background The diagnosis of infectious diseases has been hampered by reliance on microbial culture. Cultures take several days to return a result and organisms frequently fail to grow. In critically ill patients this leads to the use of empiric, broad-spectrum antimicrobials and mitigates against stewardship. Methods Single ICU observational cohort study with contemporaneous comparator group. We developed and implemented a TaqMan array card (TAC) covering 52 respiratory pathogens in ventilated patients undergoing bronchoscopic investigation for suspected pneumonia. The time to result was compared against conventional culture, and sensitivity compared to conventional microbiology and metagenomic sequencing. We observed the clinician decisions in response to array results, comparing antibiotic free days (AFD) between the study cohort and comparator group. Findings 95 patients were enrolled with 71 forming the comparator group. TAC returned results 61 hours (IQR 42-90) faster than culture. The test had an overall sensitivity of 93% (95% CI 88-97%) compared to a combined standard of conventional culture and metagenomic sequencing, with 100% sensitivity for most individual organisms. In 54% of cases the TAC results altered clinical management, with 62% of changes leading to de-escalation, 30% to an increase in spectrum, and investigations for alternative diagnoses in 9%. There was a significant difference in the distribution of AFDs with more AFDs in the TAC group (p=0.02). Interpretation Implementation of a customised syndromic diagnostic for pneumonia led to faster results, with high sensitivity and measurable impact on clinical decision making. Funding Addenbrookes Charitable Trust, Wellcome Trust and Cambridge NIHR BRC

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