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1.
Immunology ; 166(1): 68-77, 2022 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1685320

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 infection results in different outcomes ranging from asymptomatic infection to mild or severe disease and death. Reasons for this diversity of outcome include differences in challenge dose, age, gender, comorbidity and host genomic variation. Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) polymorphisms may influence immune response and disease outcome. We investigated the association of HLAII alleles with case definition symptomatic COVID-19, virus-specific antibody and T-cell immunity. A total of 1364 UK healthcare workers (HCWs) were recruited during the first UK SARS-CoV-2 wave and analysed longitudinally, encompassing regular PCR screening for infection, symptom reporting, imputation of HLAII genotype and analysis for antibody and T-cell responses to nucleoprotein (N) and spike (S). Of 272 (20%) HCW who seroconverted, the presence of HLA-DRB1*13:02 was associated with a 6·7-fold increased risk of case definition symptomatic COVID-19. In terms of immune responsiveness, HLA-DRB1*15:02 was associated with lower nucleocapsid T-cell responses. There was no association between DRB1 alleles and anti-spike antibody titres after two COVID vaccine doses. However, HLA DRB1*15:01 was associated with increased spike T-cell responses following both first and second dose vaccination. Trial registration: NCT04318314 and ISRCTN15677965.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19 Vaccines , HLA-DRB1 Chains/genetics , Histocompatibility Antigens Class I/genetics , Humans , SARS-CoV-2
2.
Science ; 375(6577): 183-192, 2022 Jan 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1625678

ABSTRACT

The impact of the initial severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infecting strain on downstream immunity to heterologous variants of concern (VOCs) is unknown. Studying a longitudinal healthcare worker cohort, we found that after three antigen exposures (infection plus two vaccine doses), S1 antibody, memory B cells, and heterologous neutralization of B.1.351, P.1, and B.1.617.2 plateaued, whereas B.1.1.7 neutralization and spike T cell responses increased. Serology using the Wuhan Hu-1 spike receptor binding domain poorly predicted neutralizing immunity against VOCs. Neutralization potency against VOCs changed with heterologous virus encounter and number of antigen exposures. Neutralization potency fell differentially depending on targeted VOCs over the 5 months from the second vaccine dose. Heterologous combinations of spike encountered during infection and vaccination shape subsequent cross-protection against VOC, with implications for future-proof next-generation vaccines.


Subject(s)
/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adult , Antibodies, Neutralizing/blood , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/blood , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Antigens, Viral/immunology , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/immunology , Cross Protection , Female , Health Personnel , Humans , Longitudinal Studies , Male , Mutation , Phosphoproteins/immunology , Protein Domains , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , T-Lymphocytes/immunology , Vaccination , Vaccine Potency
3.
Front Cardiovasc Med ; 8: 764599, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1598692

ABSTRACT

Background: Acute myocardial damage is common in severe COVID-19. Post-mortem studies have implicated microvascular thrombosis, with cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) demonstrating a high prevalence of myocardial infarction and myocarditis-like scar. The microcirculatory sequelae are incompletely characterized. Perfusion CMR can quantify the stress myocardial blood flow (MBF) and identify its association with infarction and myocarditis. Objectives: To determine the impact of the severe hospitalized COVID-19 on global and regional myocardial perfusion in recovered patients. Methods: A case-control study of previously hospitalized, troponin-positive COVID-19 patients was undertaken. The results were compared with a propensity-matched, pre-COVID chest pain cohort (referred for clinical CMR; angiography subsequently demonstrating unobstructed coronary arteries) and 27 healthy volunteers (HV). The analysis used visual assessment for the regional perfusion defects and AI-based segmentation to derive the global and regional stress and rest MBF. Results: Ninety recovered post-COVID patients {median age 64 [interquartile range (IQR) 54-71] years, 83% male, 44% requiring the intensive care unit (ICU)} underwent adenosine-stress perfusion CMR at a median of 61 (IQR 29-146) days post-discharge. The mean left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) was 67 ± 10%; 10 (11%) with impaired LVEF. Fifty patients (56%) had late gadolinium enhancement (LGE); 15 (17%) had infarct-pattern, 31 (34%) had non-ischemic, and 4 (4.4%) had mixed pattern LGE. Thirty-two patients (36%) had adenosine-induced regional perfusion defects, 26 out of 32 with at least one segment without prior infarction. The global stress MBF in post-COVID patients was similar to the age-, sex- and co-morbidities of the matched controls (2.53 ± 0.77 vs. 2.52 ± 0.79 ml/g/min, p = 0.10), though lower than HV (3.00 ± 0.76 ml/g/min, p< 0.01). Conclusions: After severe hospitalized COVID-19 infection, patients who attended clinical ischemia testing had little evidence of significant microvascular disease at 2 months post-discharge. The high prevalence of regional inducible ischemia and/or infarction (nearly 40%) may suggest that occult coronary disease is an important putative mechanism for troponin elevation in this cohort. This should be considered hypothesis-generating for future studies which combine ischemia and anatomical assessment.

4.
Nature ; 601(7891): 110-117, 2022 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1510600

ABSTRACT

Individuals with potential exposure to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) do not necessarily develop PCR or antibody positivity, suggesting that some individuals may clear subclinical infection before seroconversion. T cells can contribute to the rapid clearance of SARS-CoV-2 and other coronavirus infections1-3. Here we hypothesize that pre-existing memory T cell responses, with cross-protective potential against SARS-CoV-2 (refs. 4-11), would expand in vivo to support rapid viral control, aborting infection. We measured SARS-CoV-2-reactive T cells, including those against the early transcribed replication-transcription complex (RTC)12,13, in intensively monitored healthcare workers (HCWs) who tested repeatedly negative according to PCR, antibody binding and neutralization assays (seronegative HCWs (SN-HCWs)). SN-HCWs had stronger, more multispecific memory T cells compared with a cohort of unexposed individuals from before the pandemic (prepandemic cohort), and these cells were more frequently directed against the RTC than the structural-protein-dominated responses observed after detectable infection (matched concurrent cohort). SN-HCWs with the strongest RTC-specific T cells had an increase in IFI27, a robust early innate signature of SARS-CoV-2 (ref. 14), suggesting abortive infection. RNA polymerase within RTC was the largest region of high sequence conservation across human seasonal coronaviruses (HCoV) and SARS-CoV-2 clades. RNA polymerase was preferentially targeted (among the regions tested) by T cells from prepandemic cohorts and SN-HCWs. RTC-epitope-specific T cells that cross-recognized HCoV variants were identified in SN-HCWs. Enriched pre-existing RNA-polymerase-specific T cells expanded in vivo to preferentially accumulate in the memory response after putative abortive compared to overt SARS-CoV-2 infection. Our data highlight RTC-specific T cells as targets for vaccines against endemic and emerging Coronaviridae.


Subject(s)
Asymptomatic Infections , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Seroconversion , Cell Proliferation , Cohort Studies , DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases/metabolism , Evolution, Molecular , Female , Health Personnel , Humans , Male , Membrane Proteins/immunology , Multienzyme Complexes/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/enzymology , SARS-CoV-2/growth & development , Transcription, Genetic/immunology
5.
Lancet Microbe ; 2(10): e508-e517, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1475189

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: We hypothesised that host-response biomarkers of viral infections might contribute to early identification of individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2, which is critical to breaking the chains of transmission. We aimed to evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of existing candidate whole-blood transcriptomic signatures for viral infection to predict positivity of nasopharyngeal SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing. METHODS: We did a nested case-control diagnostic accuracy study among a prospective cohort of health-care workers (aged ≥18 years) at St Bartholomew's Hospital (London, UK) undergoing weekly blood and nasopharyngeal swab sampling for whole-blood RNA sequencing and SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing, when fit to attend work. We identified candidate blood transcriptomic signatures for viral infection through a systematic literature search. We searched MEDLINE for articles published between database inception and Oct 12, 2020, using comprehensive MeSH and keyword terms for "viral infection", "transcriptome", "biomarker", and "blood". We reconstructed signature scores in blood RNA sequencing data and evaluated their diagnostic accuracy for contemporaneous SARS-CoV-2 infection, compared with the gold standard of SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing, by quantifying the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC), sensitivities, and specificities at a standardised Z score of at least 2 based on the distribution of signature scores in test-negative controls. We used pairwise DeLong tests compared with the most discriminating signature to identify the subset of best performing biomarkers. We evaluated associations between signature expression, viral load (using PCR cycle thresholds), and symptom status visually and using Spearman rank correlation. The primary outcome was the AUROC for discriminating between samples from participants who tested negative throughout the study (test-negative controls) and samples from participants with PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection (test-positive participants) during their first week of PCR positivity. FINDINGS: We identified 20 candidate blood transcriptomic signatures of viral infection from 18 studies and evaluated their accuracy among 169 blood RNA samples from 96 participants over 24 weeks. Participants were recruited between March 23 and March 31, 2020. 114 samples were from 41 participants with SARS-CoV-2 infection, and 55 samples were from 55 test-negative controls. The median age of participants was 36 years (IQR 27-47) and 69 (72%) of 96 were women. Signatures had little overlap of component genes, but were mostly correlated as components of type I interferon responses. A single blood transcript for IFI27 provided the highest accuracy for discriminating between test-negative controls and test-positive individuals at the time of their first positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR result, with AUROC of 0·95 (95% CI 0·91-0·99), sensitivity 0·84 (0·70-0·93), and specificity 0·95 (0·85-0·98) at a predefined threshold (Z score >2). The transcript performed equally well in individuals with and without symptoms. Three other candidate signatures (including two to 48 transcripts) had statistically equivalent discrimination to IFI27 (AUROCs 0·91-0·95). INTERPRETATION: Our findings support further urgent evaluation and development of blood IFI27 transcripts as a biomarker for early phase SARS-CoV-2 infection for screening individuals at high risk of infection, such as contacts of index cases, to facilitate early case isolation and early use of antiviral treatments as they emerge. FUNDING: Barts Charity, Wellcome Trust, and National Institute of Health Research.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Adolescent , Adult , Biomarkers , COVID-19/diagnosis , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Prospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Sensitivity and Specificity
7.
Lancet Microbe ; 2(10): e508-e517, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1305340

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: We hypothesised that host-response biomarkers of viral infections might contribute to early identification of individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2, which is critical to breaking the chains of transmission. We aimed to evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of existing candidate whole-blood transcriptomic signatures for viral infection to predict positivity of nasopharyngeal SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing. METHODS: We did a nested case-control diagnostic accuracy study among a prospective cohort of health-care workers (aged ≥18 years) at St Bartholomew's Hospital (London, UK) undergoing weekly blood and nasopharyngeal swab sampling for whole-blood RNA sequencing and SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing, when fit to attend work. We identified candidate blood transcriptomic signatures for viral infection through a systematic literature search. We searched MEDLINE for articles published between database inception and Oct 12, 2020, using comprehensive MeSH and keyword terms for "viral infection", "transcriptome", "biomarker", and "blood". We reconstructed signature scores in blood RNA sequencing data and evaluated their diagnostic accuracy for contemporaneous SARS-CoV-2 infection, compared with the gold standard of SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing, by quantifying the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC), sensitivities, and specificities at a standardised Z score of at least 2 based on the distribution of signature scores in test-negative controls. We used pairwise DeLong tests compared with the most discriminating signature to identify the subset of best performing biomarkers. We evaluated associations between signature expression, viral load (using PCR cycle thresholds), and symptom status visually and using Spearman rank correlation. The primary outcome was the AUROC for discriminating between samples from participants who tested negative throughout the study (test-negative controls) and samples from participants with PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection (test-positive participants) during their first week of PCR positivity. FINDINGS: We identified 20 candidate blood transcriptomic signatures of viral infection from 18 studies and evaluated their accuracy among 169 blood RNA samples from 96 participants over 24 weeks. Participants were recruited between March 23 and March 31, 2020. 114 samples were from 41 participants with SARS-CoV-2 infection, and 55 samples were from 55 test-negative controls. The median age of participants was 36 years (IQR 27-47) and 69 (72%) of 96 were women. Signatures had little overlap of component genes, but were mostly correlated as components of type I interferon responses. A single blood transcript for IFI27 provided the highest accuracy for discriminating between test-negative controls and test-positive individuals at the time of their first positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR result, with AUROC of 0·95 (95% CI 0·91-0·99), sensitivity 0·84 (0·70-0·93), and specificity 0·95 (0·85-0·98) at a predefined threshold (Z score >2). The transcript performed equally well in individuals with and without symptoms. Three other candidate signatures (including two to 48 transcripts) had statistically equivalent discrimination to IFI27 (AUROCs 0·91-0·95). INTERPRETATION: Our findings support further urgent evaluation and development of blood IFI27 transcripts as a biomarker for early phase SARS-CoV-2 infection for screening individuals at high risk of infection, such as contacts of index cases, to facilitate early case isolation and early use of antiviral treatments as they emerge. FUNDING: Barts Charity, Wellcome Trust, and National Institute of Health Research.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Adolescent , Adult , Biomarkers , COVID-19/diagnosis , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Prospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Sensitivity and Specificity
8.
JACC Cardiovasc Imaging ; 14(11): 2155-2166, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1225278

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to detect cardiovascular changes after mild severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 infection. BACKGROUND: Concern exists that mild coronavirus disease 2019 may cause myocardial and vascular disease. METHODS: Participants were recruited from COVIDsortium, a 3-hospital prospective study of 731 health care workers who underwent first-wave weekly symptom, polymerase chain reaction, and serology assessment over 4 months, with seroconversion in 21.5% (n = 157). At 6 months post-infection, 74 seropositive and 75 age-, sex-, and ethnicity-matched seronegative control subjects were recruited for cardiovascular phenotyping (comprehensive phantom-calibrated cardiovascular magnetic resonance and blood biomarkers). Analysis was blinded, using objective artificial intelligence analytics where available. RESULTS: A total of 149 subjects (mean age 37 years, range 18 to 63 years, 58% women) were recruited. Seropositive infections had been mild with case definition, noncase definition, and asymptomatic disease in 45 (61%), 18 (24%), and 11 (15%), respectively, with 1 person hospitalized (for 2 days). Between seropositive and seronegative groups, there were no differences in cardiac structure (left ventricular volumes, mass, atrial area), function (ejection fraction, global longitudinal shortening, aortic distensibility), tissue characterization (T1, T2, extracellular volume fraction mapping, late gadolinium enhancement) or biomarkers (troponin, N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide). With abnormal defined by the 75 seronegatives (2 SDs from mean, e.g., ejection fraction <54%, septal T1 >1,072 ms, septal T2 >52.4 ms), individuals had abnormalities including reduced ejection fraction (n = 2, minimum 50%), T1 elevation (n = 6), T2 elevation (n = 9), late gadolinium enhancement (n = 13, median 1%, max 5% of myocardium), biomarker elevation (borderline troponin elevation in 4; all N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide normal). These were distributed equally between seropositive and seronegative individuals. CONCLUSIONS: Cardiovascular abnormalities are no more common in seropositive versus seronegative otherwise healthy, workforce representative individuals 6 months post-mild severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 infection.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Cardiovascular Abnormalities , Adolescent , Adult , Artificial Intelligence , Case-Control Studies , Contrast Media , Female , Gadolinium , Health Personnel , Humans , Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Cine , Male , Middle Aged , Myocardium , Predictive Value of Tests , Prospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , Ventricular Function, Left , Young Adult
9.
Science ; 2021 Apr 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1209815

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 vaccine rollout has coincided with the spread of variants of concern. We investigated if single dose vaccination, with or without prior infection, confers cross protective immunity to variants. We analyzed T and B cell responses after first dose vaccination with the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine BNT162b2 in healthcare workers (HCW) followed longitudinally, with or without prior Wuhan-Hu-1 SARS-CoV-2 infection. After one dose, individuals with prior infection showed enhanced T cell immunity, antibody secreting memory B cell response to spike and neutralizing antibodies effective against B.1.1.7 and B.1.351. By comparison, HCW receiving one vaccine dose without prior infection showed reduced immunity against variants. B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 spike mutations resulted in increased, abrogated or unchanged T cell responses depending on human leukocyte antigen (HLA) polymorphisms. Single dose vaccination with BNT162b2 in the context of prior infection with a heterologous variant substantially enhances neutralizing antibody responses against variants.

10.
EClinicalMedicine ; 34: 100835, 2021 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1184950

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: : Healthcare workers (HCWs) have increased rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection compared with the general population. We aimed to understand ethnic differences in SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity among hospital healthcare workers depending on their hospital role, socioeconomic status, Covid-19 symptoms and basic demographics. METHODS: A prospective longitudinal observational cohort study. 1364 HCWs at five UK hospitals were studied with up to 16 weeks of symptom questionnaires and antibody testing (to both nucleocapsid and spike protein) during the first UK wave in five NHS hospitals between March 20 and July 10 2020. The main outcome measures were SARS-CoV-2 infection (seropositivity at any time-point) and symptoms. Registration number: NCT04318314. FINDINGS: 272 of 1364 HCWs (mean age 40.7 years, 72% female, 74% White, ≥6 samples per participant) seroconverted, reporting predominantly mild or no symptoms. Seropositivity was lower in Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU) workers (OR=0.44 95%CI 0.24, 0.77; p=0.0035). Seropositivity was higher in Black (compared to White) participants, independent of age, sex, role and index of multiple deprivation (OR=2.61 95%CI 1.47-4.62 p=0.0009). No association was seen between White HCWs and other minority ethnic groups. INTERPRETATION: In the UK first wave, Black ethnicity (but not other ethnicities) more than doubled HCWs likelihood of seropositivity, independent of age, sex, measured socio-economic factors and hospital role.

12.
Eur Heart J ; 42(19): 1866-1878, 2021 05 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1087735

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Troponin elevation is common in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, but underlying aetiologies are ill-defined. We used multi-parametric cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) to assess myocardial injury in recovered COVID-19 patients. METHODS AND RESULTS: One hundred and forty-eight patients (64 ± 12 years, 70% male) with severe COVID-19 infection [all requiring hospital admission, 48 (32%) requiring ventilatory support] and troponin elevation discharged from six hospitals underwent convalescent CMR (including adenosine stress perfusion if indicated) at median 68 days. Left ventricular (LV) function was normal in 89% (ejection fraction 67% ± 11%). Late gadolinium enhancement and/or ischaemia was found in 54% (80/148). This comprised myocarditis-like scar in 26% (39/148), infarction and/or ischaemia in 22% (32/148) and dual pathology in 6% (9/148). Myocarditis-like injury was limited to three or less myocardial segments in 88% (35/40) of cases with no associated LV dysfunction; of these, 30% had active myocarditis. Myocardial infarction was found in 19% (28/148) and inducible ischaemia in 26% (20/76) of those undergoing stress perfusion (including 7 with both infarction and ischaemia). Of patients with ischaemic injury pattern, 66% (27/41) had no past history of coronary disease. There was no evidence of diffuse fibrosis or oedema in the remote myocardium (T1: COVID-19 patients 1033 ± 41 ms vs. matched controls 1028 ± 35 ms; T2: COVID-19 46 ± 3 ms vs. matched controls 47 ± 3 ms). CONCLUSIONS: During convalescence after severe COVID-19 infection with troponin elevation, myocarditis-like injury can be encountered, with limited extent and minimal functional consequence. In a proportion of patients, there is evidence of possible ongoing localized inflammation. A quarter of patients had ischaemic heart disease, of which two-thirds had no previous history. Whether these observed findings represent pre-existing clinically silent disease or de novo COVID-19-related changes remain undetermined. Diffuse oedema or fibrosis was not detected.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Myocarditis , Contrast Media , Female , Gadolinium , Humans , Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Cine , Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy , Male , Myocarditis/diagnostic imaging , Myocardium , Predictive Value of Tests , SARS-CoV-2 , Troponin , Ventricular Function, Left
15.
ProQuest Central; 2020.
Preprint in English | ProQuest Central | ID: ppcovidwho-2091

ABSTRACT

Background: Most biomedical research has focused on sampling COVID-19 patients presenting to hospital with advanced disease, with less focus on the asymptomatic or paucisymptomatic. We established a bioresource with serial sampling of health care workers (HCWs) designed to obtain samples before and during mainly mild disease, with follow-usampling to evaluate the quality and duration of immune memory. Methods: We conducted a prospective observational study on HCWs from three hospital sites in London, initially at a single centre (recruited just prior to first peak community transmission in London), but then extended to multiple sites 3 weeks later (recruitment still ongoing, target n=1,000). Asymptomatic participants attending work complete a health questionnaire, and provide a nasal swa(for SARS-CoV-2 RNA by RT-PCR tests) and blood samples (mononuclear cells, serum, plasma, RNA and DNA are biobanked) at 16 weekly study visits, and at 6 and 12 months. Results: Preliminary baseline results for the first 731 HCWs (400 single-centre, 331 multicentre extension) are presented. Mean age was 38±11 years;67% are female, 31% nurses, 20% doctors, and 19% work in intensive care units. COVID-19-associated risk factors were: 37% black, Asian or minority ethnicities;18% smokers;13% obesity;11% asthma;7% hypertension and 2% diabetes mellitus. At baseline, 41% reported symptoms in the preceding 2 weeks. Preliminary test results from the initial cohort (n=400) are available: PCR at baseline for SARS-CoV-2 was positive in 28 of 396 (7.1%, 95% C4.9-10.0%) and 15 of 385 (3.9%, 2.4-6.3%) had circulating IgG antibodies. Conclusions: This COVID-19 bioresource established just before the peak of infections in the UK will provide longitudinal assessments of incident infection and immune responses in HCWs through the natural time course of disease and convalescence. The samples and data from this bioresource are available to academic collaborators by application https://covid-consortium.com/application-for-samples/.

16.
PLoS One ; 15(8): e0237298, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-712951

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: We aimed to model the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on the clinical academic response in England, and to provide recommendations for COVID-related research. DESIGN: A stochastic model to determine clinical academic capacity in England, incorporating the following key factors which affect the ability to conduct research in the COVID-19 climate: (i) infection growth rate and population infection rate (from UK COVID-19 statistics and WHO); (ii) strain on the healthcare system (from published model); and (iii) availability of clinical academic staff with appropriate skillsets affected by frontline clinical activity and sickness (from UK statistics). SETTING: Clinical academics in primary and secondary care in England. PARTICIPANTS: Equivalent of 3200 full-time clinical academics in England. INTERVENTIONS: Four policy approaches to COVID-19 with differing population infection rates: "Italy model" (6%), "mitigation" (10%), "relaxed mitigation" (40%) and "do-nothing" (80%) scenarios. Low and high strain on the health system (no clinical academics able to do research at 10% and 5% infection rate, respectively. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Number of full-time clinical academics available to conduct clinical research during the pandemic in England. RESULTS: In the "Italy model", "mitigation", "relaxed mitigation" and "do-nothing" scenarios, from 5 March 2020 the duration (days) and peak infection rates (%) are 95(2.4%), 115(2.5%), 240(5.3%) and 240(16.7%) respectively. Near complete attrition of academia (87% reduction, <400 clinical academics) occurs 35 days after pandemic start for 11, 34, 62, 76 days respectively-with no clinical academics at all for 37 days in the "do-nothing" scenario. Restoration of normal academic workforce (80% of normal capacity) takes 11, 12, 30 and 26 weeks respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Pandemic COVID-19 crushes the science needed at system level. National policies mitigate, but the academic community needs to adapt. We highlight six key strategies: radical prioritisation (eg 3-4 research ideas per institution), deep resourcing, non-standard leadership (repurposing of key non-frontline teams), rationalisation (profoundly simple approaches), careful site selection (eg protected sites with large academic backup) and complete suspension of academic competition with collaborative approaches.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus , Biomedical Research/methods , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Delivery of Health Care/methods , England/epidemiology , Follow-Up Studies , Health Personnel/organization & administration , Health Workforce/organization & administration , Humans , Models, Statistical , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Prospective Studies , Public Health/methods , SARS-CoV-2
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