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Prophylaxis against covid-19: living systematic review and network meta-analysisObjective To determine and compare the effects of drug prophylaxis on SARS-CoV-2 infection and covid-19. Design Living systematic review and network meta-analysis. Data sources World Health Organization covid-19 database, a comprehensive multilingual source of global covid-19 literature to 25 March 2021, and six additional Chinese databases to 20 February 2021. Study selection Randomised trials of people at risk of covid-19 who were assigned to receive prophylaxis or no prophylaxis (standard care or placebo). Pairs of reviewers independently screened potentially eligible articles. Methods Random effects bayesian network meta-analysis was performed after duplicate data abstraction. Included studies were assessed for risk of bias using a modification of the Cochrane risk of bias 2.0 tool, and certainty of evidence was assessed using the grading of recommendations assessment, development, and evaluation (GRADE) approach. Results The first iteration of this living network meta-analysis includes nine randomised trials—six of hydroxychloroquine (n=6059 participants), one of ivermectin combined with iota-carrageenan (n=234), and two of ivermectin alone (n=540), all compared with standard care or placebo. Two trials (one of ramipril and one of bromhexine hydrochloride) did not meet the sample size requirements for network meta-analysis. Hydroxychloroquine has trivial to no effect on admission to hospital (risk difference 1 fewer per 1000 participants, 95% credible interval 3 fewer to 4 more; high certainty evidence) or mortality (1 fewer per 1000, 2 fewer to 3 more; high certainty). Hydroxychloroquine probably does not reduce the risk of laboratory confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection (2 more per 1000, 18 fewer to 28 more; moderate certainty), probably increases adverse effects leading to drug discontinuation (19 more per 1000, 1 fewer to 70 more; moderate certainty), and may have trivial to no effect on suspected, probable, or laboratory confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection (15 fewer per 1000, 64 fewer to 41 more; low certainty). Owing to serious risk of bias and very serious imprecision, and thus very low certainty of evidence, the effects of ivermectin combined with iota-carrageenan on laboratory confirmed covid-19 (52 fewer per 1000, 58 fewer to 37 fewer), ivermectin alone on laboratory confirmed infection (50 fewer per 1000, 59 fewer to 16 fewer) and suspected, probable, or laboratory confirmed infection (159 fewer per 1000, 165 fewer to 144 fewer) remain very uncertain. Conclusions Hydroxychloroquine prophylaxis has trivial to no effect on hospital admission and mortality, probably increases adverse effects, and probably does not reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Because of serious risk of bias and very serious imprecision, it is highly uncertain whether ivermectin combined with iota-carrageenan and ivermectin alone reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Systematic review registration This review was not registered. The protocol established a priori is included as a supplement. Readers’ note This article is a living systematic review that will be updated to reflect emerging evidence. Updates may occur for up to two years from the date of original publication.
Why is India having a covid-19 surge?India’s infections set new pandemic records in April, with more than 300 000 positive tests each day for a week. Kamala Thiagarajan looks at the many unanswered questions On 26 April India saw the highest daily tally of new SARS-CoV-2 infections ever recorded in the world, 360 960, taking its pandemic total to 16 million cases, second only to the US, and more than 200 000 deaths. The...1
Post-covid syndrome in individuals admitted to hospital with covid-19: retrospective cohort studyObjective To quantify rates of organ specific dysfunction in individuals with covid-19 after discharge from hospital compared with a matched control group from the general population. Design Retrospective cohort study. Setting NHS hospitals in England. Participants 47 780 individuals (mean age 65, 55% men) in hospital with covid-19 and discharged alive by 31 August 2020, exactly matched to controls from a pool of about 50 million people in England for personal and clinical characteristics from 10 years of electronic health records. Main outcome measures Rates of hospital readmission (or any admission for controls), all cause mortality, and diagnoses of respiratory, cardiovascular, metabolic, kidney, and liver diseases until 30 September 2020. Variations in rate ratios by age, sex, and ethnicity. Results Over a mean follow-up of 140 days, nearly a third of individuals who were discharged from hospital after acute covid-19 were readmitted (14 060 of 47 780) and more than 1 in 10 (5875) died after discharge, with these events occurring at rates four and eight times greater, respectively, than in the matched control group. Rates of respiratory disease (P<0.001), diabetes (P<0.001), and cardiovascular disease (P<0.001) were also significantly raised in patients with covid-19, with 770 (95% confidence interval 758 to 783), 127 (122 to 132), and 126 (121 to 131) diagnoses per 1000 person years, respectively. Rate ratios were greater for individuals aged less than 70 than for those aged 70 or older, and in ethnic minority groups compared with the white population, with the largest differences seen for respiratory disease (10.5 (95% confidence interval 9.7 to 11.4) for age less than 70 years v 4.6 (4.3 to 4.8) for age ≥70, and 11.4 (9.8 to 13.3) for non-white v 5.2 (5.0 to 5.5) for white individuals). Conclusions Individuals discharged from hospital after covid-19 had increased rates of multiorgan dysfunction compared with the expected risk in the general population. The increase in risk was not confined to the elderly and was not uniform across ethnicities. The diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of post-covid syndrome requires integrated rather than organ or disease specific approaches, and urgent research is needed to establish the risk factors.1
New metanalysis research suggests that non-drug therapies and interventions, such as exercise, appear to be as or more effective than drugs for reducing symptoms of depression in people with dementia.New metanalysis research suggests that non-drug therapies and interventions, such as exercise, appear to be as or more effective than drugs for reducing symptoms of depression in people with dementia.
The EMA covid-19 data leak, and what it tells us about mRNA instabilityLeaked documents show that some early commercial batches of Pfizer-BioNTech’s covid-19 vaccine had lower than expected levels of intact mRNA, prompting wider questions about how to assess this novel vaccine platform, writes Serena Tinari As it conducted its analysis of the Pfizer-BioNTech covid-19 vaccine in December, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) was the victim of a cyberattack.1 More...1
Risk of mortality in patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern 202012/1: matched cohort studyObjective To establish whether there is any change in mortality from infection with a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, designated a variant of concern (VOC-202012/1) in December 2020, compared with circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants. Design Matched cohort study. Setting Community based (pillar 2) covid-19 testing centres in the UK using the TaqPath assay (a proxy measure of VOC-202012/1 infection). Participants 54 906 matched pairs of participants who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in pillar 2 between 1 October 2020 and 29 January 2021, followed-up until 12 February 2021. Participants were matched on age, sex, ethnicity, index of multiple deprivation, lower tier local authority region, and sample date of positive specimens, and differed only by detectability of the spike protein gene using the TaqPath assay. Main outcome measure Death within 28 days of the first positive SARS-CoV-2 test result. Results The mortality hazard ratio associated with infection with VOC-202012/1 compared with infection with previously circulating variants was 1.64 (95% confidence interval 1.32 to 2.04) in patients who tested positive for covid-19 in the community. In this comparatively low risk group, this represents an increase in deaths from 2.5 to 4.1 per 1000 detected cases. Conclusions The probability that the risk of mortality is increased by infection with VOC-202012/01 is high. If this finding is generalisable to other populations, infection with VOC-202012/1 has the potential to cause substantial additional mortality compared with previously circulating variants. Healthcare capacity planning and national and international control policies are all impacted by this finding, with increased mortality lending weight to the argument that further coordinated and stringent measures are justified to reduce deaths from SARS-CoV-2.
Early initiation of prophylactic anticoagulation for prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 mortality in patients admitted to hospital in the United States: cohort studyObjective To evaluate whether early initiation of prophylactic anticoagulation compared with no anticoagulation was associated with decreased risk of death among patients admitted to hospital with coronavirus disease 2019 (covid-19) in the United States. Design Observational cohort study. Setting Nationwide cohort of patients receiving care in the Department of Veterans Affairs, a large integrated national healthcare system. Participants All 4297 patients admitted to hospital from 1 March to 31 July 2020 with laboratory confirmed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and without a history of anticoagulation. Main outcome measures The main outcome was 30 day mortality. Secondary outcomes were inpatient mortality, initiating therapeutic anticoagulation (a proxy for clinical deterioration, including thromboembolic events), and bleeding that required transfusion. Results Of 4297 patients admitted to hospital with covid-19, 3627 (84.4%) received prophylactic anticoagulation within 24 hours of admission. More than 99% (n=3600) of treated patients received subcutaneous heparin or enoxaparin. 622 deaths occurred within 30 days of hospital admission, 513 among those who received prophylactic anticoagulation. Most deaths (510/622, 82%) occurred during hospital stay. Using inverse probability of treatment weighted analyses, the cumulative incidence of mortality at 30 days was 14.3% (95% confidence interval 13.1% to 15.5%) among those who received prophylactic anticoagulation and 18.7% (15.1% to 22.9%) among those who did not. Compared with patients who did not receive prophylactic anticoagulation, those who did had a 27% decreased risk for 30 day mortality (hazard ratio 0.73, 95% confidence interval 0.66 to 0.81). Similar associations were found for inpatient mortality and initiation of therapeutic anticoagulation. Receipt of prophylactic anticoagulation was not associated with increased risk of bleeding that required transfusion (hazard ratio 0.87, 0.71 to 1.05). Quantitative bias analysis showed that results were robust to unmeasured confounding (e-value lower 95% confidence interval 1.77 for 30 day mortality). Results persisted in several sensitivity analyses. Conclusions Early initiation of prophylactic anticoagulation compared with no anticoagulation among patients admitted to hospital with covid-19 was associated with a decreased risk of 30 day mortality and no increased risk of serious bleeding events. These findings provide strong real world evidence to support guidelines recommending the use of prophylactic anticoagulation as initial treatment for patients with covid-19 on hospital admission.
Covid-19: Vaccine brands can be mixed in “extremely rare occasions,” says Public Health EnglandPatients should receive the same type of covid-19 vaccine for their first and second doses, but they could be given different brands if the same vaccine is not available or if there is no record of which vaccine the person received first, Public Health England (PHE) has said. Mary Ramsay, head of immunisations at PHE, told The BMJ that “every effort should be made to give [patients] the same vaccine, but where this is not possible it is better to give a second dose of another …1
Use of mobile phones and risk of brain tumours: update of Danish cohort studyObjective To investigate the risk of tumours in the central nervous system among Danish mobile phone subscribers. Design Nationwide cohort study. Setting Denmark. Participants All Danes aged ≥30 and born in Denmark after 1925, subdivided into subscribers and non-subscribers of mobile phones before 1995. Main outcome measures Risk of tumours of the central nervous system, identified from the complete Danish Cancer Register. Sex specific incidence rate ratios estimated with log linear Poisson regression models adjusted for age, calendar period, education, and disposable income. Results 358 403 subscription holders accrued 3.8 million person years. In the follow-up period 1990-2007, there were 10 729 cases of tumours of the central nervous system. The risk of such tumours was close to unity for both men and women. When restricted to individuals with the longest mobile phone use—that is, ≥13 years of subscription—the incidence rate ratio was 1.03 (95% confidence interval 0.83 to 1.27) in men and 0.91 (0.41 to 2.04) in women. Among those with subscriptions of ≥10 years, ratios were 1.04 (0.85 to 1.26) in men and 1.04 (0.56 to 1.95) in women for glioma and 0.90 (0.57 to 1.42) in men and 0.93 (0.46 to 1.87) in women for meningioma. There was no indication of dose-response relation either by years since first subscription for a mobile phone or by anatomical location of the tumour—that is, in regions of the brain closest to where the handset is usually held to the head. Conclusions In this update of a large nationwide cohort study of mobile phone use, there were no increased risks of tumours of the central nervous system, providing little evidence for a causal association.
Covid-19: Norway investigates 23 deaths in frail elderly patients after vaccinationDoctors in Norway have been told to conduct more thorough evaluations of very frail elderly patients in line to receive the Pfizer BioNTec vaccine against covid-19, following the deaths of 23 patients shortly after receiving the vaccine. “It may be a coincidence, but we aren’t sure,” Steinar Madsen, medical director of the Norwegian Medicines Agency (NOMA), told The BMJ . “There is no certain...1
Association between conflicts of interest and favourable recommendations in clinical guidelines, advisory committee reports, opinion pieces, and narrative reviews: systematic reviewObjective To investigate the association between conflicts of interest and favourable recommendations in clinical guidelines, advisory committee reports, opinion pieces, and narrative reviews. Design Systematic review. Eligibility criteria Studies that compared the association between conflicts of interest and favourable recommendations of drugs or devices (eg, recommending a drug) in clinical guidelines, advisory committee reports, opinion pieces (eg, editorials), or narrative reviews. Data sources PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Methodology Register (from inception to February 2020), reference lists, Web of Science, and grey literature. Data extraction and analysis Two authors independently extracted data and assessed the methodological quality of the studies. Pooled relative risks and 95% confidence intervals were estimated using random effects models (relative risk >1 indicates that documents with conflicts of interest more often had favourable recommendations than documents with no conflicts of interest). Financial and non-financial conflicts of interest were analysed separately, and the four types of documents were analysed separately (preplanned) and combined (post hoc). Results 21 studies that analysed 106 clinical guidelines, 1809 advisory committee reports, 340 opinion pieces, and 497 narrative reviews were included. Unpublished data were received for 11 studies (eight full datasets and three summary datasets). 15 studies showed risk of confounding because the compared documents could differ in factors other than conflicts of interest (eg, different drugs used for different populations). The relative risk for associations between financial conflicts of interest and favourable recommendations for clinical guidelines was 1.26 (95% confidence interval 0.93 to 1.69; four studies of 86 clinical guidelines), for advisory committee reports was 1.20 (0.99 to 1.45; four studies of 629 advisory committee reports), for opinion pieces was 2.62 (0.91 to 7.55; four studies of 284 opinion pieces), and for narrative reviews was 1.20 (0.97 to 1.49; four studies of 457 narrative reviews). An analysis of all four types of documents combined supported these findings (1.26, 1.09 to 1.44). In one study that investigated specialty interests, the association between including radiologists as authors of guidelines and recommending routine breast cancer was: relative risk 2.10, 95% confidence interval 0.92 to 4.77; 12 clinical guidelines). Conclusions We interpret our findings to indicate that financial conflicts of interest are associated with favourable recommendations of drugs and devices in clinical guidelines, advisory committee reports, opinion pieces, and narrative reviews. Limitations of this review were risk of confounding in the included studies and the statistical imprecision of individual analyses of each document type. It is not certain whether non-financial conflicts of interest influence recommendations. Systematic review registration Cochrane Methodology Review Protocol MR000040.
Patient mortality after surgery on the surgeon’s birthday: observational studyObjective To determine whether patient mortality after surgery differs between surgeries performed on surgeons’ birthdays compared with other days of the year. Design Retrospective observational study. Setting US acute care and critical access hospitals. Participants 100% fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 to 99 years who underwent one of 17 common emergency surgical procedures in...