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PubMed; 2021.
Preprint in English | PubMed | ID: ppcovidwho-330689


Although the COVID-19 pandemic has left no country untouched there has been limited research to understand clinical and immunological responses in African populations. Here we comprehensively characterise patients hospitalised with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, and healthy community controls. PCR-confirmed COVID-19 participants were more likely to receive dexamethasone and a beta-lactam antibiotic, and survive to hospital discharge than PCR-/IgG+ and PCR-/IgG-participants. PCR-/IgG+ participants exhibited a nasal and systemic cytokine signature analogous to PCR-confirmed COVID-19 participants, but increased propensity for Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae colonisation. We did not find evidence that HIV co-infection in COVID-19 participants was associated with mortality or altered cytokine responses. The nasal immune signature in PCR-/IgG+ and PCR-confirmed COVID-19 participants was distinct and predominated by chemokines and neutrophils. In addition, PCR-/IgG+ individuals with high COVID-19 clinical suspicion had inflammatory profiles analogous to PCR-confirmed disease and potentially represent a target population for COVID-19 treatment strategies.

Preprint in English | EMBASE | ID: ppcovidwho-326852


Introduction: Understanding human mixing patterns relevant to infectious diseases spread through close contact is vital for modelling transmission dynamics and optimisation of disease control strategies. Mixing patterns in low-income countries like Malawi are not well understood. Methodology: We conducted a social mixing survey in urban Blantyre, Malawi between April and July 2021 (between the 2nd and 3rd wave of COVID-19 infections). Participants living in densely-populated neighbourhoods were randomly sampled and, if they consented, reported their physical and non-physical contacts within and outside homes lasting at least 5 minutes during the previous day. Age-specific mixing rates were calculated, and a negative binomial mixed effects model was used to estimate determinants of contact behaviour. Results: Of 1,201 individuals enrolled, 702 (58.5%) were female, the median age was 15 years (interquartile range [IQR] 5-32) and 127 (10.6%) were HIV-positive. On average, participants reported 10.3 contacts per day (range: 1-25). Mixing patterns were highly age-assortative, particularly those within the community and with skin-to-skin contact. Adults aged 20-49y reported the most contacts (median:11, IQR: 8-15) of all age groups;38% (95%CI: 16-63) more than infants (median: 8, IQR: 5-10), who had the least contacts. Household contact frequency increased by 3% (95%CI 2-5) per additional household member. Unemployed participants had 15% (95%CI: 9-21) fewer contacts than other adults. Among long range (>30 meters away from home) contacts, secondary school children had the largest median contact distance from home (257m, IQR 78-761). HIV-positive status in adults >18 years-old was not associated with increased contact patterns (1%, 95%CI -9-12). During this period of relatively low COVID-19 incidence in Malawi, 301 (25.1%) individuals stated that they had limited their contact with others due to COVID-19 precautions;however, their reported contacts were not fewer (8%, 95%CI 1-13). Conclusion: In urban Malawi, contact rates, are high and age-assortative, with little behavioural change due to either HIV-status or COVID-19 circulation. This highlights the limits of contact-restriction-based mitigation strategies in such settings and the need for pandemic preparedness to better understand how contact reductions can be enabled and motivated.

Wellcome Open Research ; 5(18), 2020.
Article in English | CAB Abstracts | ID: covidwho-1154867


Background: In low-income countries, like Malawi, important public health measures including social distancing or a lockdown have been challenging to implement owing to socioeconomic constraints, leading to predictions that the COVID-19 pandemic would progress rapidly. However, due to limited capacity to test for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, there are no reliable estimates of the true burden of infection and death. We, therefore, conducted a SARS-CoV-2 serosurvey amongst health care workers (HCWs) in Blantyre city to estimate the cumulative incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in urban Malawi.