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Lancet Reg Health West Pac ; 26: 100533, 2022 Sep.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2086523


Background: Regular repeat surveillance testing is a strategy to identify asymptomatic individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infections in high-risk work settings to prevent onward community transmission. Saliva sampling is less invasive compared to nasal/oropharyngeal sampling, thus making it suitable for regular testing. In this multi-centre evaluation, we aimed to validate RT-PCR using salivary swab testing of SARS-CoV-2 for large-scale surveillance testing and assess implementation amongst staff working in the hotel quarantine system in Victoria, Australia. Methods: A multi-centre laboratory evaluation study was conducted to systematically validate the in vitro and clinical performance of salivary swab RT-PCR for implementation of SARS-CoV-2 surveillance testing. Analytical sensitivity for multiple RT-PCR platforms was assessed using a dilution series of known SARS-CoV-2 viral loads, and assay specificity was examined using a panel of viral pathogens other than SARS-CoV-2. In addition, we tested capacity for large-scale saliva testing using a four-sample pooling approach, where positive pools were subsequently decoupled and retested. Regular, frequent self-collected saliva swab RT-PCR testing was implemented for staff across fourteen quarantine hotels. Samples were tested at three diagnostic laboratories validated in this study, and results were provided back to staff in real-time. Findings: The agreement of self-collected saliva swabs for RT-PCR was 84.5% (95% CI 68.6 to 93.8) compared to RT-PCR using nasal/oropharyngeal swab samples collected by a healthcare practitioner, when saliva samples were collected within seven days of symptom onset. Between 7th December 2020 and 17th December 2021, almost 500,000 RT-PCR tests were performed on saliva swabs self-collected by 102 staff working in quarantine hotels in Melbourne. Of these, 20 positive saliva swabs were produced by 13 staff (0.004%). The majority of staff that tested positive occurred during periods of community transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant. Interpretation: Salivary RT-PCR had an acceptable level of agreement compared to standard nasal/oropharyngeal swab RT-PCR within early symptom onset. The scalability, tolerability and ease of self-collection highlights utility for frequent or repeated testing in high-risk settings, such as quarantine or healthcare environments where regular monitoring of staff is critical for public health, and protection of vulnerable populations. Funding: This work was funded by the Victorian Department of Health.

EClinicalMedicine ; 54: 101703, 2022 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2082840


Background: Well tolerated antivirals administered early in the course of COVID-19 infection when the viremia is highest could prevent progression to severe disease. Favipiravir inhibits SARS-CoV-2 viral replication in vitro with evidence of clinical benefit in open label trials. Placebo controlled studies of people with early symptomatic COVID-19 with regular assessments of SARS-CoV-2 viral load can determine if it has an antiviral effect and improves clinical outcomes. Methods: People with PCR-confirmed COVID-19 and 5 days or less of symptoms were randomised 1:1 to favipiravir 1800 mg on day 1, then 800 mg twice daily or matched placebo for 14 days. SARS-CoV-2 viral load was quantitated from second daily self-collected nose-throat swabs while receiving study drug. The primary endpoint was time to virological cure defined as 2 successive swabs negative for SARS-CoV-2 by PCR and secondary outcomes were progression of disease severity, symptom resolution and safety. Findings: Between 31 July 2020 and 19 September 2021, 200 people were enrolled (199 in the community, 1 in hospital) with 190 receiving one or more doses of drug (modified intention to treat [mITT] population). There was no difference in time to virological cure (Log-rank p=0.6 comparing Kaplan Meier curves), progression to hospitalisation (14 favipiravir, 9 placebo; p=0.38), time to symptom resolution (cough, fever, sore throat) and there were no deaths. 51 people related an adverse event that was possibly drug related, but these were evenly distributed (n=24 favipiravir, n=27 placebo). Sensitivity analyses where the definition of virological cure was changed to: a single negative PCR, exclude datapoints based on the presence or absence of human DNA in the swab, a SARS-CoV-2 viral load < 300 copies/mL being considered negative all demonstrated no difference between arms. Interpretation: Favipiravir does not improve the time to virological cure or clinical outcomes and shows no evidence of an antiviral effect when treating early symptomatic COVID-19 infection. Funding: The study was supported in part by grants from the Commonwealth Bank Australia, the Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation, Melbourne Australia and the Orloff Family Charitable Trust, Melbourne, Australia. JHM is supported by the Medical Research Future Fund, AYP, JT are supported by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council.

Trials ; 21(1): 847, 2020 Oct 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-858487


OBJECTIVES: Primary objective: To determine the efficacy of a candidate antiviral on time to virological cure compared to standard of care within 14 days of randomisation Secondary objectives: • To determine the safety of the antiviral • To determine the clinical benefit of the antiviral over placebo according to the WHO 7-point ordinal scale • To determine the clinical benefit of the antiviral over placebo on time to resolution of clinical symptoms • To determine the effect of the antiviral over placebo on biomarkers of inflammation and immune activation TRIAL DESIGN: This is a multi-centre, triple-blind, randomised placebo controlled phase II, 2-arm trial with parallel-group design with allocation ratio 1:1. PARTICIPANTS: Inclusion Criteria: • Provision of informed consent by the participant • Age ≥18 years • Confirmed SARS-CoV-2 by nucleic acid testing in the past 5 days • COVID-19 related symptom initiation within 5 days • Female patients of childbearing potential must have a negative pregnancy test at Screening. Female patients of childbearing potential and fertile male patients who are sexually active with a female of childbearing potential must use highly effective methods of contraception throughout the study and for 1 week following the last dose of study treatment. EXCLUSION CRITERIA: • Known allergy to the study medication • Is on another clinical trial investigating an antiviral treatment for COVID-19 • Pregnancy • Patients with severe hepatic dysfunction equivalent to Grade C in the Child-Pugh classification • Patients with renal impairment requiring dialysis • Is deemed by the Investigator to be ineligible for any reason Participants will be recruited from, and the study visits will take place at Alfred Hospital, Monash Health, Austin Health in Victoria, Australia for hospitalised participants as well as recruitment in the community in participants homes for eligible people not requiring hospitalisation. INTERVENTION AND COMPARATOR: The first candidate antiviral is favipiravir Arm 1: Favipiravir 1800 mg favipiravir BD on Day 1 followed by 800 mg BD favipiravir for the next 13 days. Arm 2: Placebo MAIN OUTCOMES: Primary outcome: Time to virological cure as defined by 2 successive throat (or combined nose/throat) swabs negative for SARS-CoV-2 by nucleic acid testing during the 14 days after enrolment. RANDOMISATION: Randomisation performed at the Alfred Hospital Clinical Trials Pharmacy using computer generated block-randomisation lists with 6 participants per block. Within each block half of the participants will be randomised to the candidate antiviral and the other half to placebo. Randomisation is stratified by study site, with participants enrolled in the community considered as a study site. BLINDING (MASKING): Study participants, study investigators and the study statistician will be blinded to treatment allocation. NUMBERS TO BE RANDOMISED (SAMPLE SIZE): The study aims to recruit 190 people (95/arm) with the first candidate antiviral favipiravir TRIAL STATUS: Protocol version 2.0 Dated 31-Jul-2020. Recruitment will take place between July 2020 and December 2020. TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT04445467 First posted 24-Jun-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.

Amides/therapeutic use , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , Betacoronavirus/drug effects , Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy , Pneumonia, Viral/drug therapy , Pyrazines/therapeutic use , Amides/adverse effects , Antiviral Agents/adverse effects , Australia/epidemiology , Betacoronavirus/genetics , Biomarkers/metabolism , COVID-19 , Clinical Protocols , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Female , Hospitalization/statistics & numerical data , Humans , Male , Pandemics , Placebos/administration & dosage , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Pyrazines/adverse effects , SARS-CoV-2 , Safety , Treatment Outcome