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Public Health ; 213: 5-11, 2022 Oct 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2083185


OBJECTIVES: The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of routine syndromic surveillance of respiratory infections, specifically new cases of severe acute respiratory infection (SARI). This surveillance often relies on questionnaires carried out by research nurses or transcriptions of doctor's notes, but existing, routinely collected electronic healthcare data sets are increasingly being used for such surveillance. We investigated how patient diagnosis codes, recorded within such data sets, could be used to capture SARI trends in Scotland. STUDY DESIGN: We conducted a retrospective observational study using electronic healthcare data sets between 2017 and 2022. METHODS: Sensitive, specific and timely case definition (CDs) based on patient diagnosis codes contained within national registers in Scotland were proposed to identify SARI cases. Representativeness and sensitivity analyses were performed to assess how well SARI cases captured by each definition matched trends in historic influenza and SARS-CoV-2 data. RESULTS: All CDs accurately captured the peaks seen in laboratory-confirmed positive influenza and SARS-CoV-2 data, although the completeness of patient diagnosis records was discovered to vary widely. The timely CD provided the earliest detection of changes in SARI activity, whilst the sensitive CD provided insight into the burden and severity of SARI infections. CONCLUSIONS: A universal SARI surveillance system has been developed and demonstrated to accurately capture seasonal SARI trends. It can be used as an indicator of emerging secondary care burden of emerging SARI outbreaks. The system further strengthens Scotland's existing strategies for respiratory surveillance, and the methods described here can be applied within any country with suitable electronic patient records.

Integrative Medicine ; 19:34-42, 2020.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-824816


As the novel infection with SARS-CoV-2 emerges, objective assessment of the scientific plausibility of nutraceutical and botanical interventions for prevention and treatment is important. We evaluate twelve such interventions with mechanisms of action that modulate the immune system, impair viral replication, and/or have been demonstrated to reduce severity of illness. These are examples of interventions that, mechanistically, can help protect patients in the presence of the prevalent and infectious SARS-CoV-2 virus. While there are limited studies to validate these agents to specifically prevent COVID-19, they have been chosen based upon their level of evidence for effectiveness and safety profiles, in the context of other viral infections. These agents are to be used in a patient-specific manner in concert with lifestyle interventions known to strengthen immune response (see related article in this issue of IMCJ).

Integrative Medicine ; 19:44-53, 2020.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-828676


The ability to accurately identify whether individuals are at risk for, infected with, or have an immune response to SARS-CoV-2 is essential to address the COVID-19 pandemic from both a personal, clinical and a public health perspective. We investigate the clinical value of testing for the presence of viral RNA (a surrogate for infection) and the presence of antibodies (a proxy for immunity) to gather data to protect both individual and public health. We define the limitations and the practical clinical application of viral and serologic testing.