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PLoS Global Public Health ; 2(7), 2022.
Article in English | GIM | ID: covidwho-2021485


Therapeutic efficacy in COVID-19 is dependent upon disease severity (treatment effect heterogeneity). Unfortunately, definitions of severity vary widely. This compromises the meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and the therapeutic guidelines derived from them. The World Health Organisation 'living' guidelines for the treatment of COVID-19 are based on a network meta-analysis (NMA) of published RCTs. We reviewed the 81 studies included in the WHO COVID-19 living NMA and compared their severity classifications with the severity classifications employed by the international COVID-NMA initiative. The two were concordant in only 35% (24/68) of trials. Of the RCTs evaluated, 69% (55/77) were considered by the WHO group to include patients with a range of severities (12 mild-moderate;3 mild-severe;18 mild-critical;5 moderate-severe;8 moderate-critical;10 severe-critical), but the distribution of disease severities within these groups usually could not be determined, and data on the duration of illness and/or oxygen saturation values were often missing. Where severity classifications were clear there was substantial overlap in mortality across trials in different severity strata. This imprecision in severity assessment compromises the validity of some therapeutic recommendations;notably extrapolation of "lack of therapeutic benefit" shown in hospitalised severely ill patients on respiratory support to ambulant mildly ill patients is not warranted. Both harmonised unambiguous definitions of severity and individual patient data (IPD) meta-analyses are needed to guide and improve therapeutic recommendations in COVID-19. Achieving this goal will require improved coordination of the main stakeholders developing treatment guidelines and medicine regulatory agencies. Open science, including prompt data sharing, should become the standard to allow IPD meta-analyses.

Wellcome Open Research ; 5:1-21, 2021.
Article in English | Scopus | ID: covidwho-1485497


There is no proven preventative therapy or vaccine against COVID-19. Theinfection has spread rapidly and there has already been a substantial adverse impact on the global economy. Healthcare workers have been affected disproportionately in the continuing pandemic. Significant infection rates in this critical group have resulted in a breakdown of health services in some countries. Chloroquine, and the closely related hydroxychloroquine, are safe and well tolerated medications which can be given for years without adverse effects. Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have significant antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2, and despite the lack of benefit of hydroxychloroquine treatment in patients hospitalised with severe COVID-19, these drugs could still work in prevention. The emerging infection paradigm of an early viral peak, and late inflammation where there is benefit from corticosteroids. If these direct actiing antivirals are to work, they have the best chance given either early in infection infection occurs. We describe the study protocol for multi-centre, multi-country randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trial to answer the question can chloroquine/ hydroxychloroquine prevent COVID-19. 40,000 participants working in healthcare facilities or involved in the management of COVID-19 will be randomised 1:1 to receive chloroquine/ hydroxychloroquine or matched placebo as daily prophylaxis for three months. The primary objective is the prevention of symptomatic, virological or serologically proven coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The study could detect a 23% reduction from an incidence of 3% in the placebo group for either drug with 80% power. Secondary objectives are to determine ifchloroquine/hydroxychloroquine prophylaxis attenuates severity, prevents asymptomaticCOVID-19 and symptomatic acute respiratory infections of another aetiology (non-SARS-CoV-2). © 2020. Schilling WH et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Wellcome Open Research ; 6:71, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1359433


The World Health Organization living guideline on drugs to prevent COVID-19 has recently advised that ongoing trials evaluating hydroxychloroquine in chemoprophylaxis should stop. The WHO guideline cites "high certainty" evidence from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that hydroxychloroquine prophylaxis does not reduce mortality and does not reduce hospital admission, and "moderate certainty" evidence of poor tolerability because of a significantly increased rate of adverse events leading to drug discontinuation. Yet there is no such evidence. In the three pre-exposure chemoprophylaxis RCTs evaluated in the guideline there were no deaths and only two COVID-19-related hospital admissions, and there was a mistake in the analysis of the number of discontinuations (after correction there is no longer a statistically significant difference between those taking the drug and the controls). Guidelines on the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 should be based on sufficient verified evidence, understanding of the disease process, sound statistical analysis and interpretation, and an appreciation of global needs.