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COVID-19 vaccination in Sindh Province, Pakistan: A modelling study of health impact and cost-effectiveness

Lu, 04/10/2021 - 15:00

by Carl A. B. Pearson, Fiammetta Bozzani, Simon R. Procter, Nicholas G. Davies, Maryam Huda, Henning Tarp Jensen, Marcus Keogh-Brown, Muhammad Khalid, Sedona Sweeney, Sergio Torres-Rueda, CHiL COVID-19 Working Group , CMMID COVID-19 Working Group , Rosalind M. Eggo, Anna Vassall, Mark Jit

Background

Multiple Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines appear to be safe and efficacious, but only high-income countries have the resources to procure sufficient vaccine doses for most of their eligible populations. The World Health Organization has published guidelines for vaccine prioritisation, but most vaccine impact projections have focused on high-income countries, and few incorporate economic considerations. To address this evidence gap, we projected the health and economic impact of different vaccination scenarios in Sindh Province, Pakistan (population: 48 million).

Methods and findings

We fitted a compartmental transmission model to COVID-19 cases and deaths in Sindh from 30 April to 15 September 2020. We then projected cases, deaths, and hospitalisation outcomes over 10 years under different vaccine scenarios. Finally, we combined these projections with a detailed economic model to estimate incremental costs (from healthcare and partial societal perspectives), disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), and incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) for each scenario.We project that 1 year of vaccine distribution, at delivery rates consistent with COVAX projections, using an infection-blocking vaccine at $3/dose with 70% efficacy and 2.5-year duration of protection is likely to avert around 0.9 (95% credible interval (CrI): 0.9, 1.0) million cases, 10.1 (95% CrI: 10.1, 10.3) thousand deaths, and 70.1 (95% CrI: 69.9, 70.6) thousand DALYs, with an ICER of $27.9 per DALY averted from the health system perspective. Under a broad range of alternative scenarios, we find that initially prioritising the older (65+) population generally prevents more deaths. However, unprioritised distribution has almost the same cost-effectiveness when considering all outcomes, and both prioritised and unprioritised programmes can be cost-effective for low per-dose costs. High vaccine prices ($10/dose), however, may not be cost-effective, depending on the specifics of vaccine performance, distribution programme, and future pandemic trends.The principal drivers of the health outcomes are the fitted values for the overall transmission scaling parameter and disease natural history parameters from other studies, particularly age-specific probabilities of infection and symptomatic disease, as well as social contact rates. Other parameters are investigated in sensitivity analyses.This study is limited by model approximations, available data, and future uncertainty. Because the model is a single-population compartmental model, detailed impacts of nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) such as household isolation cannot be practically represented or evaluated in combination with vaccine programmes. Similarly, the model cannot consider prioritising groups like healthcare or other essential workers. The model is only fitted to the reported case and death data, which are incomplete and not disaggregated by, e.g., age. Finally, because the future impact and implementation cost of NPIs are uncertain, how these would interact with vaccination remains an open question.

Conclusions

COVID-19 vaccination can have a considerable health impact and is likely to be cost-effective if more optimistic vaccine scenarios apply. Preventing severe disease is an important contributor to this impact. However, the advantage of prioritising older, high-risk populations is smaller in generally younger populations. This reduction is especially true in populations with more past transmission, and if the vaccine is likely to further impede transmission rather than just disease. Those conditions are typical of many low- and middle-income countries.

The EmpaTeach intervention for reducing physical violence from teachers to students in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp: A cluster-randomised controlled trial

Lu, 04/10/2021 - 15:00

by Camilla Fabbri, Katherine Rodrigues, Baptiste Leurent, Elizabeth Allen, Mary Qiu, Martin Zuakulu, Dennis Nombo, Michael Kaemingk, Alexandra De Filippo, Gerard Torrats-Espinosa, Elizabeth Shayo, Vivien Barongo, Giulia Greco, Wietse Tol, Karen M. Devries

Background

School-based violence prevention interventions offer enormous potential to reduce children’s experience of violence perpetrated by teachers, but few have been rigorously evaluated globally and, to the best of our knowledge, none in humanitarian settings. We tested whether the EmpaTeach intervention could reduce physical violence from teachers to students in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp, Tanzania.

Methods and findings

We conducted a 2-arm cluster-randomised controlled trial with parallel assignment. A complete sample of all 27 primary and secondary schools in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp were approached and agreed to participate in the study. Eligible students and teachers participated in cross-sectional baseline, midline, and endline surveys in November/December 2018, May/June 2019, and January/February 2020, respectively. Fourteen schools were randomly assigned to receive a violence prevention intervention targeted at teachers implemented in January–March 2019; 13 formed a wait-list control group. The EmpaTeach intervention used empathy-building exercises and group work to equip teachers with self-regulation, alternative discipline techniques, and classroom management strategies. Allocation was not concealed due to the nature of the intervention. The primary outcome was students’ self-reported experience of physical violence from teachers, assessed at midline using a modified version of the ISPCAN Child Abuse Screening Tool–Child Institutional. Secondary outcomes included student reports of emotional violence, depressive symptoms, and school attendance. Analyses were by intention to treat, using generalised estimating equations adjusted for stratification factors. No schools left the study. In total, 1,493 of the 1,866 (80%) randomly sampled students approached for participation took part in the baseline survey; at baseline 54.1% of students reported past-week physical violence from school staff. In total, 1,619 of 1,978 students (81.9%) took part in the midline survey, and 1,617 of 2,032 students (79.6%) participated at endline. Prevalence of past-week violence at midline was not statistically different in intervention (408 of 839 students, 48.6%) and control schools (412 of 777 students, 53.0%; risk ratio = 0.91, 95% CI 0.80 to 1.02, p = 0.106). No effect was detected on secondary outcomes. A camp-wide educational policy change during intervention implementation resulted in 14.7% of teachers in the intervention arm receiving a compressed version of the intervention, but exploratory analyses showed no difference in our primary outcome by school-level adherence to the intervention. Main study limitations included the small number of schools in the camp, which limited statistical power to detect small differences between intervention and control groups. We also did not assess the test–retest reliability of our outcome measures, and interviewers were unmasked to intervention allocation.

Conclusions

There was no evidence that the EmpaTeach intervention effectively reduced physical violence from teachers towards primary or secondary school students in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp. Further research is needed to develop and test interventions to prevent teacher violence in humanitarian settings.

Trial registration

clinicaltrials.gov (NCT03745573)

Testing approaches to sharing trial results with participants: The Show RESPECT cluster randomised, factorial, mixed methods trial

Lu, 04/10/2021 - 15:00

by Annabelle South, Nalinie Joharatnam-Hogan, Cara Purvis, Elizabeth C. James, Carlos Diaz-Montana, William J. Cragg, Conor Tweed, Archie Macnair, Matthew R. Sydes, Claire Snowdon, Katie Gillies, Talia Isaacs, Barbara E. Bierer, Andrew J. Copas

Background

Sharing trial results with participants is an ethical imperative but often does not happen. We tested an Enhanced Webpage versus a Basic Webpage, Mailed Printed Summary versus no Mailed Printed Summary, and Email List Invitation versus no Email List Invitation to see which approach resulted in the highest patient satisfaction with how the results were communicated.

Methods and findings

We carried out a cluster randomised, 2 by 2 by 2 factorial, nonblinded study within a trial, with semistructured qualitative interviews with some patients (ISRCTN96189403). Each cluster was a UK hospital participating in the ICON8 ovarian cancer trial. Interventions were shared with 384 ICON8 participants who were alive and considered well enough to be contacted, at 43 hospitals. Hospitals were allocated to share results with participants through one of the 8 intervention combinations based on random permutation within blocks of 8, stratified by number of participants. All interventions contained a written plain English summary of the results. The Enhanced Webpage also contained a short video. Both the Enhanced Webpage and Email contained links to further information and support. The Mailed Printed Summary was opt-out.Follow-up questionnaires were sent 1 month after patients had been offered the interventions. Patients’ reported satisfaction was measured using a 5-point scale, analysed by ordinal logistic regression estimating main effects for all 3 interventions, with random effects for site, restricted to those who reported receiving the results and assuming no interaction. Data collection took place in 2018 to 2019.Questionnaires were sent to 275/384 randomly selected participants and returned by 180: 90/142 allocated Basic Webpage, 90/133 Enhanced Webpage; 91/141 no Mailed Printed Summary, 89/134 Mailed Printed Summary; 82/129 no Email List Invitation, 98/146 Email List Invitation. Only 3 patients opted out of receiving the Mailed Printed Summary; no patients signed up to the email list. Patients’ satisfaction was greater at sites allocated the Mailed Printed Summary, where 65/81 (80%) were quite or very satisfied compared to sites with no Mailed Printed Summary 39/64 (61%), ordinal odds ratio (OR) = 3.15 (1.66 to 5.98, p < 0.001). We found no effect on patient satisfaction from the Enhanced Webpage, OR = 1.47 (0.78 to 2.76, p = 0.235) or Email List Invitation, OR = 1.38 (0.72 to 2.63, p = 0.327). Interviewees described the results as interesting, important, and disappointing (the ICON8 trial found no benefit). Finding out the results made some feel their trial participation had been more worthwhile. Regardless of allocated group, patients who received results generally reported that the information was easy to understand and find, were glad and did not regret finding out the results. The main limitation of our study is the 65% response rate.

Conclusions

Nearly all respondents wanted to know the results and were glad to receive them. Adding an opt-out Mailed Printed Summary alongside a webpage yielded the highest reported satisfaction. This study provides evidence on how to share results with other similar trial populations. Further research is needed to look at different results scenarios and patient populations.

Trial registration

ISRCTN: ISRCTN96189403.

The effects of an evidence- and theory-informed feedback intervention on opioid prescribing for non-cancer pain in primary care: A controlled interrupted time series analysis

Lu, 04/10/2021 - 15:00

by Sarah L. Alderson, Tracey M. Farragher, Thomas A. Willis, Paul Carder, Stella Johnson, Robbie Foy

Background

The rise in opioid prescribing in primary care represents a significant international public health challenge, associated with increased psychosocial problems, hospitalisations, and mortality. We evaluated the effects of a comparative feedback intervention with persuasive messaging and action planning on opioid prescribing in primary care.

Methods and findings

A quasi-experimental controlled interrupted time series analysis used anonymised, aggregated practice data from electronic health records and prescribing data from publicly available sources. The study included 316 intervention and 130 control primary care practices in the Yorkshire and Humber region, UK, serving 2.2 million and 1 million residents, respectively. We observed the number of adult patients prescribed opioid medication by practice between July 2013 and December 2017. We excluded adults with coded cancer or drug dependency. The intervention, the Campaign to Reduce Opioid Prescribing (CROP), entailed bimonthly, comparative, and practice-individualised feedback reports to practices, with persuasive messaging and suggested actions over 1 year. Outcomes comprised the number of adults per 1,000 adults per month prescribed any opioid (main outcome), prescribed strong opioids, prescribed opioids in high-risk groups, prescribed other analgesics, and referred to musculoskeletal services. The number of adults prescribed any opioid rose pre-intervention in both intervention and control practices, by 0.18 (95% CI 0.11, 0.25) and 0.36 (95% CI 0.27, 0.46) per 1,000 adults per month, respectively. During the intervention period, prescribing per 1,000 adults fell in intervention practices (change −0.11; 95% CI −0.30, −0.08) and continued rising in control practices (change 0.54; 95% CI 0.29, 0.78), with a difference of −0.65 per 1,000 patients (95% CI −0.96, −0.34), corresponding to 15,000 fewer patients prescribed opioids. These trends continued post-intervention, although at slower rates. Prescribing of strong opioids, total opioid prescriptions, and prescribing in high-risk patient groups also generally fell. Prescribing of other analgesics fell whilst musculoskeletal referrals did not rise. Effects were attenuated after feedback ceased. Study limitations include being limited to 1 region in the UK, possible coding errors in routine data, being unable to fully account for concurrent interventions, and uncertainties over how general practices actually used the feedback reports and whether reductions in prescribing were always clinically appropriate.

Conclusions

Repeated comparative feedback offers a promising and relatively efficient population-level approach to reduce opioid prescribing in primary care, including prescribing of strong opioids and prescribing in high-risk patient groups. Such feedback may also prompt clinicians to reconsider prescribing other medicines associated with chronic pain, without causing a rise in referrals to musculoskeletal clinics. Feedback may need to be sustained for maximum effect.

COVID-19 and global equity for health: The good, the bad, and the wicked

Ve, 01/10/2021 - 15:00

by Elvin H. Geng, Michael J. A. Reid, Eric Goosby, Quarraisha Abdool-Karim

Elvin Geng and co-authors discuss monitoring and achieving equity in provision of vaccines for COVID-19.

Different dose regimens of a SARS-CoV-2 recombinant spike protein vaccine (NVX-CoV2373) in younger and older adults: A phase 2 randomized placebo-controlled trial

Ve, 01/10/2021 - 15:00

by Neil Formica, Raburn Mallory, Gary Albert, Michelle Robinson, Joyce S. Plested, Iksung Cho, Andreana Robertson, Filip Dubovsky, Gregory M. Glenn, for the 2019nCoV-101 Study Group

Background

NVX-CoV2373 is a recombinant severe acute respiratory coronavirus 2 (rSARS-CoV-2) nanoparticle vaccine composed of trimeric full-length SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoproteins and Matrix-M1 adjuvant.

Methods and findings

The phase 2 component of our randomized, placebo-controlled, phase 1 to 2 trial was designed to identify which dosing regimen of NVX-CoV2373 should move forward into late-phase studies and was based on immunogenicity and safety data through Day 35 (14 days after the second dose). The trial was conducted at 9 sites in Australia and 8 sites in the United States. Participants in 2 age groups (aged 18 to 59 and 60 to 84 years) were randomly assigned to receive either 1 or 2 intramuscular doses of 5-μg or 25-μg NVX-CoV2373 or placebo, 21 days apart. Primary endpoints were immunoglobulin G (IgG) anti-spike protein response, 7-day solicited reactogenicity, and unsolicited adverse events. A key secondary endpoint was wild-type virus neutralizing antibody response. After enrollment, 1,288 participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 vaccine groups or placebo, with 1,283 participants administered at least 1 study treatment. Of these, 45% were older participants 60 to 84 years. Reactogenicity was predominantly mild to moderate in severity and of short duration (median <3 days) after first and second vaccination with NVX-CoV2373, with higher frequencies and intensity after second vaccination and with the higher dose. Reactogenicity occurred less frequently and was of lower intensity in older participants. Both 2-dose regimens of 5-μg and 25-μg NVX-CoV2373 induced robust immune responses in younger and older participants. For the 2-dose regimen of 5 μg, geometric mean titers (GMTs) for IgG anti-spike protein were 65,019 (95% confidence interval (CI) 55,485 to 76,192) and 28,137 (95% CI 21,617 to 36,623) EU/mL and for wild-type virus neutralizing antibody (with an inhibitory concentration of 50%—MN50%) were 2,201 (95% CI 1,343 to 3,608) and 981 (95% CI 560 to 1,717) titers for younger and older participants, respectively, with seroconversion rates of 100% in both age groups. Neutralizing antibody responses exceeded those seen in a panel of convalescent sera for both age groups. Study limitations include the relatively short duration of safety follow-up to date and current lack of immune persistence data beyond the primary vaccination regimen time point assessments, but these data will accumulate over time.

Conclusions

The study confirmed the phase 1 findings that the 2-dose regimen of 5-μg NVX-CoV2373 is highly immunogenic and well tolerated in younger adults. In addition, in older adults, the 2-dose regimen of 5 μg was also well tolerated and showed sufficient immunogenicity to support its use in late-phase efficacy studies.

Trial registration

ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04368988.

Postmortem investigations and identification of multiple causes of child deaths: An analysis of findings from the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) network

Gi, 30/09/2021 - 15:00

by Robert F. Breiman, Dianna M. Blau, Portia Mutevedzi, Victor Akelo, Inacio Mandomando, Ikechukwu U. Ogbuanu, Samba O. Sow, Lola Madrid, Shams El Arifeen, Mischka Garel, Nana Bukiwe Thwala, Dickens Onyango, Antonio Sitoe, Ima-Abasi Bassey, Adama Mamby Keita, Addisu Alemu, Muntasir Alam, Sana Mahtab, Dickson Gethi, Rosauro Varo, Julius Ojulong, Solomon Samura, Ashka Mehta, Alexander M. Ibrahim, Afruna Rahman, Pio Vitorino, Vicky L. Baillie, Janet Agaya, Milagritos D. Tapia, Nega Assefa, Atique Iqbal Chowdhury, J. Anthony G. Scott, Emily S. Gurley, Karen L. Kotloff, Amara Jambai, Quique Bassat, Beth A. Tippett-Barr, Shabir A. Madhi, Cynthia G. Whitney, the CHAMPS Consortium

Background

The current burden of >5 million deaths yearly is the focus of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years old by 2030. To accelerate progression toward this goal, data are needed that accurately quantify the leading causes of death, so that interventions can target the common causes. By adding postmortem pathology and microbiology studies to other available data, the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) network provides comprehensive evaluations of conditions leading to death, in contrast to standard methods that rely on data from medical records and verbal autopsy and report only a single underlying condition. We analyzed CHAMPS data to characterize the value of considering multiple causes of death.

Methods and findings

We examined deaths identified from December 2016 through November 2020 from 7 CHAMPS sites (in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and South Africa), including 741 neonatal, 278 infant, and 241 child <5 years deaths for which results from Determination of Cause of Death (DeCoDe) panels were complete. DeCoDe panelists included all conditions in the causal chain according to the ICD-10 guidelines and assessed if prevention or effective management of the condition would have prevented the death. We analyzed the distribution of all conditions listed as causal, including underlying, antecedent, and immediate causes of death. Among 1,232 deaths with an underlying condition determined, we found a range of 0 to 6 (mean 1.5, IQR 0 to 2) additional conditions in the causal chain leading to death. While pathology provides very helpful clues, we cannot always be certain that conditions identified led to death or occurred in an agonal stage of death. For neonates, preterm birth complications (most commonly respiratory distress syndrome) were the most common underlying condition (n = 282, 38%); among those with preterm birth complications, 256 (91%) had additional conditions in causal chains, including 184 (65%) with a different preterm birth complication, 128 (45%) with neonatal sepsis, 69 (24%) with lower respiratory infection (LRI), 60 (21%) with meningitis, and 25 (9%) with perinatal asphyxia/hypoxia. Of the 278 infant deaths, 212 (79%) had ≥1 additional cause of death (CoD) beyond the underlying cause. The 2 most common underlying conditions in infants were malnutrition and congenital birth defects; LRI and sepsis were the most common additional conditions in causal chains, each accounting for approximately half of deaths with either underlying condition. Of the 241 child deaths, 178 (75%) had ≥1 additional condition. Among 46 child deaths with malnutrition as the underlying condition, all had ≥1 other condition in the causal chain, most commonly sepsis, followed by LRI, malaria, and diarrheal disease. Including all positions in the causal chain for neonatal deaths resulted in 19-fold and 11-fold increases in attributable roles for meningitis and LRI, respectively. For infant deaths, the proportion caused by meningitis and sepsis increased by 16-fold and 11-fold, respectively; for child deaths, sepsis and LRI are increased 12-fold and 10-fold, respectively. While comprehensive CoD determinations were done for a substantial number of deaths, there is potential for bias regarding which deaths in surveillance areas underwent minimally invasive tissue sampling (MITS), potentially reducing representativeness of findings.

Conclusions

Including conditions that appear anywhere in the causal chain, rather than considering underlying condition alone, markedly changed the proportion of deaths attributed to various diagnoses, especially LRI, sepsis, and meningitis. While CHAMPS methods cannot determine when 2 conditions cause death independently or may be synergistic, our findings suggest that considering the chain of events leading to death can better guide research and prevention priorities aimed at reducing child deaths.

Evaluation of portable devices for medicine quality screening: Lessons learnt, recommendations for implementation, and future priorities

Gi, 30/09/2021 - 15:00

by Céline Caillet, Serena Vickers, Vayouly Vidhamaly, Kem Boutsamay, Phonepasith Boupha, Stephen Zambrzycki, Nantasit Luangasanatip, Yoel Lubell, Facundo M. Fernández, Paul N. Newton

Céline Caillet and co-authors discuss a Collection on use of portable devices for the evaluation of medicine quality and legitimacy.

Correction: Accelerometer measured physical activity and the incidence of cardiovascular disease: Evidence from the UK Biobank cohort study

Me, 29/09/2021 - 15:00

by Rema Ramakrishnan, Aiden Doherty, Karl Smith-Byrne, Kazem Rahimi, Derrick Bennett, Mark Woodward, Rosemary Walmsley, Terence Dwyer

Death of an offspring and parental risk of ischemic heart diseases: A population-based cohort study

Me, 29/09/2021 - 15:00

by Dang Wei, Imre Janszky, Fang Fang, Hua Chen, Rickard Ljung, Jiangwei Sun, Jiong Li, Krisztina D. László

Background

The death of a child is an extreme life event with potentially long-term health consequences. Knowledge about its association with ischemic heart diseases (IHDs) and acute myocardial infarction (AMI), however, is very limited. We investigated whether the death of an offspring is associated with the risk of IHD and AMI.

Methods and findings

We studied parents of live-born children recorded in the Danish (1973 to 2016) and the Swedish (1973 to 2014) Medical Birth Registers (n = 6,711,952; mean age at baseline 31 years, 53% women). We retrieved information on exposure, outcomes, and covariates by linking individual-level information from several nationwide registers. We analyzed the abovementioned associations using Poisson regression. A total of 126,522 (1.9%) parents lost at least 1 child during the study period. Bereaved parents had a higher risk of IHD and AMI than the nonbereaved [incidence rate ratios (IRRs) (95% confidence intervals (CIs)): 1.20 (1.18 to 1.23), P < 0.001 and 1.21 (1.17 to 1.25), P < 0.001, respectively]. The association was present not only in case of losses due to CVD or other natural causes, but also in case of unnatural deaths. The AMI risk was highest in the first week after the loss [IRR (95% CI): 3.67 (2.08 to 6.46), P < 0.001], but a 20% to 40% increased risk was observed throughout the whole follow-up period. Study limitations include the possibility of residual confounding by socioeconomic, lifestyle, or health-related factors and the potentially limited generalizability of our findings outside Scandinavia.

Conclusions

The death of an offspring was associated with an increased risk of IHD and AMI. The finding that the association was present also in case of losses due to unnatural causes, which are less likely to be confounded by cardiovascular risk factors clustering in families, suggests that stress-related mechanisms may also contribute to the observed associations.

Implications of armed conflict for maternal and child health: A regression analysis of data from 181 countries for 2000–2019

Ma, 28/09/2021 - 15:00

by Mohammed Jawad, Thomas Hone, Eszter P. Vamos, Valeria Cetorelli, Christopher Millett

Background

Armed conflicts have major indirect health impacts in addition to the direct harms from violence. They create enduring political instability, destabilise health systems, and foster negative socioeconomic and environmental conditions—all of which constrain efforts to reduce maternal and child mortality. The detrimental impacts of conflict on global maternal and child health are not robustly quantified. This study assesses the association between conflict and maternal and child health globally.

Methods and findings

Data for 181 countries (2000–2019) from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program and World Bank were analysed using panel regression models. Primary outcomes were maternal, under-5, infant, and neonatal mortality rates. Secondary outcomes were delivery by a skilled birth attendant and diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus (DPT) and measles vaccination coverage. Models were adjusted for 10 confounders, country and year fixed effects, and conflict lagged by 1 year. Further lagged associations up to 10 years post-conflict were tested. The number of excess deaths due to conflict was estimated. Out of 3,718 country–year observations, 522 (14.0%) had minor conflicts and 148 (4.0%) had wars. In adjusted models, conflicts classified as wars were associated with an increase in maternal mortality of 36.9 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births (95% CI 1.9–72.0; 0.3 million excess deaths [95% CI 0.2 million–0.4 million] over the study period), an increase in infant mortality of 2.8 per 1,000 live births (95% CI 0.1–5.5; 2.0 million excess deaths [95% CI 1.6 million–2.5 million]), a decrease in DPT vaccination coverage of 4.9% (95% CI 1.5%–8.3%), and a decrease in measles vaccination coverage of 7.3% (95% CI 2.7%–11.8%). The long-term impacts of war were demonstrated by associated increases in maternal mortality observed for up to 7 years, in under-5 mortality for 3–5 years, in infant mortality for up to 8 years, in DPT vaccination coverage for up to 3 years, and in measles vaccination coverage for up to 2 years. No evidence of association between armed conflict and neonatal mortality or delivery by a skilled birth attendant was found. Study limitations include the ecological study design, which may mask sub-national variation in conflict intensity, and the quality of the underlying data.

Conclusions

Our analysis indicates that armed conflict is associated with substantial and persistent excess maternal and child deaths globally, and with reductions in key measures that indicate reduced availability of organised healthcare. These findings highlight the importance of protecting women and children from the indirect harms of conflict, including those relating to health system deterioration and worsening socioeconomic conditions.

Maternal hypertensive disorder of pregnancy and offspring early-onset cardiovascular disease in childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood: A national population-based cohort study

Ma, 28/09/2021 - 15:00

by Chen Huang, Jiong Li, Guoyou Qin, Zeyan Liew, Jing Hu, Krisztina D. László, Fangbiao Tao, Carsten Obel, Jørn Olsen, Yongfu Yu

Background

The prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) has been increasing in children, adolescents, and young adults in recent decades. Exposure to adverse intrauterine environment in fetal life may contribute to the elevated risk of early-onset CVD. Many studies have shown that maternal hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP) are associated with increased risks of congenital heart disease, high blood pressure, increased BMI, and systemic vascular dysfunction in offspring. However, empirical evidence on the association between prenatal exposure to maternal HDP and early-onset CVD in childhood and adolescence remains limited.

Methods and findings

We conducted a population-based cohort study using Danish national health registers, including 2,491,340 individuals born in Denmark from 1977 to 2018. Follow-up started at birth and ended at the first diagnosis of CVD, emigration, death, or 31 December 2018, whichever came first. Exposure of maternal HDP was categorized as preeclampsia or eclampsia (n = 68,387), gestational hypertension (n = 18,603), and pregestational hypertension (n = 15,062). Outcome was the diagnosis of early-onset CVD from birth to young adulthood (up to 40 years old). We performed Cox proportional hazards regression to evaluate the associations and whether the association differed by maternal history of CVD or diabetes before childbirth. We further assessed the association by timing of onset and severity of preeclampsia. The median follow-up time was 18.37 years, and 51.3% of the participants were males. A total of 4,532 offspring in the exposed group (2.47 per 1,000 person-years) and 94,457 in the unexposed group (2.03 per 1,000 person-years) were diagnosed with CVD. We found that exposure to maternal HDP was associated with an increased risk of early-onset CVD (hazard ratio [HR]: 1.23; 95% CI = 1.19 to 1.26; P < 0.001). The HRs for preeclampsia or eclampsia, gestational hypertension, and pregestational hypertension were 1.22 (95% CI, 1.18 to 1.26; P < 0.001), 1.25 (95% CI, 1.17 to 1.34; P < 0.001), and 1.28 (95% CI, 1.15 to 1.42; P < 0.001), respectively. We also observed increased risks for type-specific CVDs, in particular for hypertensive disease (HR, 2.11; 95% CI, 1.96 to 2.27; P < 0.001) and myocardial infarction (HR, 1.49; 95% CI, 1.12 to 1.98; P = 0.007). Strong associations were found among offspring of mothers with CVD history (HR, 1.67; 95% CI, 1.41 to 1.98; P < 0.001) or comorbid diabetes (HR, 1.56; 95% CI, 1.34 to 1.83; P < 0.001). When considering timing of onset and severity of preeclampsia on offspring CVD, the strongest association was observed for early-onset and severe preeclampsia (HR, 1.48, 95% CI, 1.30 to 1.67; P < 0.001). Study limitations include the lack of information on certain potential confounders (including smoking, physical activity, and alcohol consumption) and limited generalizability in other countries with varying disparities in healthcare.

Conclusions

Offspring born to mothers with HDP, especially mothers with CVD or diabetes history, were at increased risks of overall and certain type-specific early-onset CVDs in their first decades of life. Further research is warranted to better understand the mechanisms underlying the relationship between maternal HDP and early-onset CVD in offspring.

Sustainable Developmental Goals interrupted: Overcoming challenges to global child and adolescent health

Ma, 28/09/2021 - 15:00

by Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, Kathryn M. Yount, Quique Bassat, Caitlin E. Moyer

Special Issue Editor’s choice: Global child health from birth to adolescence and beyond

Ma, 28/09/2021 - 15:00

by Caitlin Moyer

Caitlin Moyer discusses PLOS Medicine’s Special Issue on Global Child and Adolescent Health.

Gram-negative neonatal sepsis in low- and lower-middle-income countries and WHO empirical antibiotic recommendations: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Ma, 28/09/2021 - 15:00

by Sophie C. H. Wen, Yukiko Ezure, Lauren Rolley, Geoff Spurling, Colleen L. Lau, Saba Riaz, David L. Paterson, Adam D. Irwin

Background

Neonatal sepsis is a significant global health issue associated with marked regional disparities in mortality. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a growing concern in Gram-negative organisms, which increasingly predominate in neonatal sepsis, and existing WHO empirical antibiotic recommendations may no longer be appropriate. Previous systematic reviews have been limited to specific low- and middle-income countries. We therefore completed a systematic review and meta-analysis of available data from all low- and lower-middle-income countries (LLMICs) since 2010, with a focus on regional differences in Gram-negative infections and AMR.

Methods and findings

All studies published from 1 January 2010 to 21 April 2021 about microbiologically confirmed bloodstream infections or meningitis in neonates and AMR in LLMICs were assessed for eligibility. Small case series, studies with a small number of Gram-negative isolates (<10), and studies with a majority of isolates prior to 2010 were excluded. Main outcomes were pooled proportions of Escherichia coli, Klebsiella, Enterobacter, Pseudomonas, Acinetobacter and AMR. We included 88 studies (4 cohort studies, 3 randomised controlled studies, and 81 cross-sectional studies) comprising 10,458 Gram-negative isolates from 19 LLMICs. No studies were identified outside of Africa and Asia. The estimated pooled proportion of neonatal sepsis caused by Gram-negative organisms was 60% (95% CI 55% to 65%). Klebsiella spp. was the most common, with a pooled proportion of 38% of Gram-negative sepsis (95% CI 33% to 43%). Regional differences were observed, with higher proportions of Acinetobacter spp. in Asia and Klebsiella spp. in Africa. Resistance to aminoglycosides and third-generation cephalosporins ranged from 42% to 69% and from 59% to 84%, respectively. Study limitations include significant heterogeneity among included studies, exclusion of upper-middle-income countries, and potential sampling bias, with the majority of studies from tertiary hospital settings, which may overestimate the burden caused by Gram-negative bacteria.

Conclusions

Gram-negative bacteria are an important cause of neonatal sepsis in LLMICs and are associated with significant rates of resistance to WHO-recommended first- and second-line empirical antibiotics. AMR surveillance should underpin region-specific empirical treatment recommendations. Meanwhile, a significant global commitment to accessible and effective antimicrobials for neonates is required.

Effectiveness and costs associated with a lay counselor–delivered, brief problem-solving mental health intervention for adolescents in urban, low-income schools in India: 12-month outcomes of a randomized controlled trial

Ma, 28/09/2021 - 15:00

by Kanika Malik, Daniel Michelson, Aoife M. Doyle, Helen A. Weiss, Giulia Greco, Rooplata Sahu, James E. J., Sonal Mathur, Paulomi Sudhir, Michael King, Pim Cuijpers, Bruce Chorpita, Christopher G. Fairburn, Vikram Patel

Background

Psychosocial interventions for adolescent mental health problems are effective, but evidence on their longer-term outcomes is scarce, especially in low-resource settings. We report on the 12-month sustained effectiveness and costs of scaling up a lay counselor–delivered, transdiagnostic problem-solving intervention for common adolescent mental health problems in low-income schools in New Delhi, India.

Methods and findings

Participants in the original trial were 250 school-going adolescents (mean [M] age = 15.61 years, standard deviation [SD] = 1.68), including 174 (69.6%) who identified as male. Participants were recruited from 6 government schools over a period of 4 months (August 20 to December 14, 2018) and were selected on the basis of elevated mental health symptoms and distress/functional impairment. A 2-arm, randomized controlled trial design was used to examine the effectiveness of a lay counselor–delivered, problem-solving intervention (4 to 5 sessions over 3 weeks) with supporting printed booklets (intervention arm) in comparison with problem solving delivered via printed booklets alone (control arm), at the original endpoints of 6 and 12 weeks. The protocol was modified, as per the recommendation of the Trial Steering Committee, to include a post hoc extension of the follow-up period to 12 months. Primary outcomes were adolescent-reported psychosocial problems (Youth Top Problems [YTP]) and mental health symptoms (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire [SDQ] Total Difficulties scale). Other self-reported outcomes included SDQ subscales, perceived stress, well-being, and remission. The sustained effects of the intervention were estimated at the 12-month endpoint and over 12 months (the latter assumed a constant effect across 3 follow-up points) using a linear mixed model for repeated measures and involving complete case analysis. Sensitivity analyses examined the effect of missing data using multiple imputations. Costs were estimated for delivering the intervention during the trial and from modeling a scale-up scenario, using a retrospective ingredients approach. Out of the 250 original trial participants, 176 (70.4%) adolescents participated in the 12-month follow-up assessment. One adverse event was identified during follow-up and deemed unrelated to the intervention. Evidence was found for intervention effects on both SDQ Total Difficulties and YTP at 12 months (YTP: adjusted mean difference [AMD] = −0.75, 95% confidence interval [CI] = −1.47, −0.03, p = 0.04; SDQ Total Difficulties: AMD = −1.73, 95% CI = −3.47, 0.02, p = 0.05), with stronger effects over 12 months (YTP: AMD = −0.98, 95% CI = −1.51, −0.45, p < 0.001; SDQ Total Difficulties: AMD = −1.23, 95% CI = −2.37, −0.09; p = 0.03). There was also evidence for intervention effects on internalizing symptoms, impairment, perceived stress, and well-being over 12 months. The intervention effect was stable for most outcomes on sensitivity analyses adjusting for missing data; however, for SDQ Total Difficulties and impairment, the effect was slightly attenuated. The per-student cost of delivering the intervention during the trial was $3 United States dollars (USD; or $158 USD per case) and for scaling up the intervention in the modeled scenario was $4 USD (or $23 USD per case). The scaling up cost accounted for 0.4% of the per-student school budget in New Delhi. The main limitations of the study’s methodology were the lack of sample size calculations powered for 12-month follow-up and the absence of cost-effectiveness analyses using the primary outcomes.

Conclusions

In this study, we observed that a lay counselor–delivered, brief transdiagnostic problem-solving intervention had sustained effects on psychosocial problems and mental health symptoms over the 12-month follow-up period. Scaling up this resource-efficient intervention is an affordable policy goal for improving adolescents’ access to mental health care in low-resource settings. The findings need to be interpreted with caution, as this study was a post hoc extension, and thus, the sample size calculations did not take into account the relatively high attrition rate observed during the long-term follow-up.

Trial registration

ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03630471.

Predictive symptoms for COVID-19 in the community: REACT-1 study of over 1 million people

Ma, 28/09/2021 - 15:00

by Joshua Elliott, Matthew Whitaker, Barbara Bodinier, Oliver Eales, Steven Riley, Helen Ward, Graham Cooke, Ara Darzi, Marc Chadeau-Hyam, Paul Elliott

Background

Rapid detection, isolation, and contact tracing of community COVID-19 cases are essential measures to limit the community spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). We aimed to identify a parsimonious set of symptoms that jointly predict COVID-19 and investigated whether predictive symptoms differ between the B.1.1.7 (Alpha) lineage (predominating as of April 2021 in the US, UK, and elsewhere) and wild type.

Methods and findings

We obtained throat and nose swabs with valid SARS-CoV-2 PCR test results from 1,147,370 volunteers aged 5 years and above (6,450 positive cases) in the REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study. This study involved repeated community-based random surveys of prevalence in England (study rounds 2 to 8, June 2020 to January 2021, response rates 22%–27%). Participants were asked about symptoms occurring in the week prior to testing. Viral genome sequencing was carried out for PCR-positive samples with N-gene cycle threshold value < 34 (N = 1,079) in round 8 (January 2021). In univariate analysis, all 26 surveyed symptoms were associated with PCR positivity compared with non-symptomatic people. Stability selection (1,000 penalized logistic regression models with 50% subsampling) among people reporting at least 1 symptom identified 7 symptoms as jointly and positively predictive of PCR positivity in rounds 2–7 (June to December 2020): loss or change of sense of smell, loss or change of sense of taste, fever, new persistent cough, chills, appetite loss, and muscle aches. The resulting model (rounds 2–7) predicted PCR positivity in round 8 with area under the curve (AUC) of 0.77. The same 7 symptoms were selected as jointly predictive of B.1.1.7 infection in round 8, although when comparing B.1.1.7 with wild type, new persistent cough and sore throat were more predictive of B.1.1.7 infection while loss or change of sense of smell was more predictive of the wild type. The main limitations of our study are (i) potential participation bias despite random sampling of named individuals from the National Health Service register and weighting designed to achieve a representative sample of the population of England and (ii) the necessary reliance on self-reported symptoms, which may be prone to recall bias and may therefore lead to biased estimates of symptom prevalence in England.

Conclusions

Where testing capacity is limited, it is important to use tests in the most efficient way possible. We identified a set of 7 symptoms that, when considered together, maximize detection of COVID-19 in the community, including infection with the B.1.1.7 lineage.

Incidence, co-occurrence, and evolution of long-COVID features: A 6-month retrospective cohort study of 273,618 survivors of COVID-19

Ma, 28/09/2021 - 15:00

by Maxime Taquet, Quentin Dercon, Sierra Luciano, John R. Geddes, Masud Husain, Paul J. Harrison

Background

Long-COVID refers to a variety of symptoms affecting different organs reported by people following Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection. To date, there have been no robust estimates of the incidence and co-occurrence of long-COVID features, their relationship to age, sex, or severity of infection, and the extent to which they are specific to COVID-19. The aim of this study is to address these issues.

Methods and findings

We conducted a retrospective cohort study based on linked electronic health records (EHRs) data from 81 million patients including 273,618 COVID-19 survivors. The incidence and co-occurrence within 6 months and in the 3 to 6 months after COVID-19 diagnosis were calculated for 9 core features of long-COVID (breathing difficulties/breathlessness, fatigue/malaise, chest/throat pain, headache, abdominal symptoms, myalgia, other pain, cognitive symptoms, and anxiety/depression). Their co-occurrence network was also analyzed. Comparison with a propensity score–matched cohort of patients diagnosed with influenza during the same time period was achieved using Kaplan–Meier analysis and the Cox proportional hazard model. The incidence of atopic dermatitis was used as a negative control.Among COVID-19 survivors (mean [SD] age: 46.3 [19.8], 55.6% female), 57.00% had one or more long-COVID feature recorded during the whole 6-month period (i.e., including the acute phase), and 36.55% between 3 and 6 months. The incidence of each feature was: abnormal breathing (18.71% in the 1- to 180-day period; 7.94% in the 90- to180-day period), fatigue/malaise (12.82%; 5.87%), chest/throat pain (12.60%; 5.71%), headache (8.67%; 4.63%), other pain (11.60%; 7.19%), abdominal symptoms (15.58%; 8.29%), myalgia (3.24%; 1.54%), cognitive symptoms (7.88%; 3.95%), and anxiety/depression (22.82%; 15.49%). All 9 features were more frequently reported after COVID-19 than after influenza (with an overall excess incidence of 16.60% and hazard ratios between 1.44 and 2.04, all p < 0.001), co-occurred more commonly, and formed a more interconnected network. Significant differences in incidence and co-occurrence were associated with sex, age, and illness severity. Besides the limitations inherent to EHR data, limitations of this study include that (i) the findings do not generalize to patients who have had COVID-19 but were not diagnosed, nor to patients who do not seek or receive medical attention when experiencing symptoms of long-COVID; (ii) the findings say nothing about the persistence of the clinical features; and (iii) the difference between cohorts might be affected by one cohort seeking or receiving more medical attention for their symptoms.

Conclusions

Long-COVID clinical features occurred and co-occurred frequently and showed some specificity to COVID-19, though they were also observed after influenza. Different long-COVID clinical profiles were observed based on demographics and illness severity.

Regional differences in short stature in England between 2006 and 2019: A cross-sectional analysis from the National Child Measurement Programme

Ma, 28/09/2021 - 15:00

by Joanna Orr, Joseph Freer, Joan K. Morris, Caroline Hancock, Robert Walton, Leo Dunkel, Helen L. Storr, Andrew J. Prendergast

Background

Short stature, defined as height for age more than 2 standard deviations (SDs) below the population median, is an important indicator of child health. Short stature (often termed stunting) has been widely researched in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), but less is known about the extent and burden in high-income settings. We aimed to map the prevalence of short stature in children aged 4–5 years in England between 2006 and 2019.

Methods and findings

We used data from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) for the school years 2006–2007 to 2018–2019. All children attending state-maintained primary schools in England are invited to participate in the NCMP, and heights from a total of 7,062,071 children aged 4–5 years were analysed. We assessed short stature, defined as a height-for-age standard deviation score (SDS) below −2 using the United Kingdom WHO references, by sex, index of multiple deprivation (IMD), ethnicity, and region. Geographic clustering of short stature was analysed using spatial analysis in SaTScan. The prevalence of short stature in England was 1.93% (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.92–1.94). Ethnicity adjusted spatial analyses showed geographic heterogeneity of short stature, with high prevalence clusters more likely in the North and Midlands, leading to 4-fold variation between local authorities (LAs) with highest and lowest prevalence of short stature. Short stature was linearly associated with IMD, with almost 2-fold higher prevalence in the most compared with least deprived decile (2.56% (2.53–2.59) vs. 1.38% (1.35–1.41)). There was ethnic heterogeneity: Short stature prevalence was lowest in Black children (0.64% (0.61–0.67)) and highest in Indian children (2.52% (2.45–2.60)) and children in other ethnic categories (2.57% (2.51–2.64)). Girls were more likely to have short stature than boys (2.09% (2.07–2.10) vs. 1.77% (1.76–1.78), respectively). Short stature prevalence declined over time, from 2.03% (2.01–2.05) in 2006–2010 to 1.82% (1.80–1.84) in 2016–2019. Short stature declined at all levels of area deprivation, with faster declines in more deprived areas, but disparities by IMD quintile were persistent. This study was conducted cross-sectionally at an area level, and, therefore, we cannot make any inferences about the individual causes of short stature.

Conclusions

In this study, we observed a clear social gradient and striking regional variation in short stature across England, including a North–South divide. These findings provide impetus for further investigation into potential socioeconomic influences on height and the factors underlying regional variation.

Factors associated with the prevalence of HIV, HSV-2, pregnancy, and reported sexual activity among adolescent girls in rural western Kenya: A cross-sectional analysis of baseline data in a cluster randomized controlled trial

Ma, 28/09/2021 - 15:00

by Garazi Zulaika, Elizabeth Nyothach, Anna Maria van Eijk, David Obor, Linda Mason, Duolao Wang, Tao Chen, Emily Kerubo, Valarie Opollo, Isaac Ngere, Samuel Omondi Owino, Boaz Oyaro, Feiko O. ter Kuile, Daniel Kwaro, Penelope Phillips-Howard

Background

Adolescence is a sensitive time for girls’ sexual and reproductive health (SRH), as biological changes occur concurrently with heightening pressures for sexual activity. In western Kenya, adolescent girls are vulnerable to acquiring sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as HIV and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), and to becoming pregnant prior to reaching adulthood. This study examines associations between individual, household, and partner-related risk factors and the prevalence of sex, adolescent pregnancy, HIV, and HSV-2.

Methods and findings

We report baseline findings among 4,138 girls attending secondary school who were enrolled between 2017 and 2018 in the Cups or Cash for Girls (CCG) cluster randomized controlled trial in Siaya County, rural western Kenya. Laboratory confirmed biomarkers and survey data were utilized to assess the effects of girls’ individual, household, and partner characteristics on the main outcome measures (adolescent reported sex, prior pregnancy, HIV, and HSV-2) through generalized linear model (GLM) analysis. Complete data were available for 3,998 girls (97%) with median age 17.1 years (interquartile range [IQR] 16.3 to 18.0 years); 17.2% were HSV-2 seropositive (n = 686) and 1.7% tested positive for HIV (n = 66). Sexual activity was reported by 27.3% girls (n = 1,090), of whom 12.2% had been pregnant (n = 133). After adjustment, orphanhood (adjusted risk ratio [aRR] 2.81, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.18 to 6.71, p-value [p] = 0.020), low body mass index (BMI) (aRR 2.07; CI: 1.00 to 4.30, p = 0.051), and age (aRR 1.34, 1.18 to 1.53, p < 0.001) were all associated with HIV infection. Girls reporting light menstrual bleeding (aRR 2.42, 1.22 to 4.79, p = 0.012) for fewer than 3 days (aRR 2.81, 1.16 to 6.82, p = 0.023) were over twice as likely to have HIV. Early menarche (aRR 2.05, 1.33 to 3.17, p = 0.001) was associated with adolescent pregnancy and HSV-2–seropositive girls reported higher rates of pregnancy (aRR 1.62, CI: 1.16 to 2.27, p = 0.005). High BMI was associated with HSV-2 (aRR 1.24, 1.05 to 1.46, p = 0.010) and sexual activity (aRR 1.14, 1.02 to 1.28, p = 0.016). High levels of harassment were detected in the cohort (41.2%); being touched indecently conveyed the strongest association related to reported sexual activity (aRR 2.52, 2.26 to 2.81, p < 0.001). Study limitations include the cross-sectional design of the study, which informs on the SRH burdens found in this population but limits causal interpretation of associations, and the self-reported exposure ascertainment, which may have led to possible underreporting of risk factors, most notably prior sexual activity.

Conclusions

Our findings indicate that adolescent girls attending school in Kenya face frequent harassment for sex and are at high risk of pregnancy and HSV-2, with girls experiencing early menarche particularly vulnerable. Targeted interventions, such as earlier sexual education programs, are warranted to address their vulnerability to SRH harms.

Trial registration

ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03051789.