News within Clinical Medicine
Professor Colm Bergin secures funding for CoVID-19 Research
Professor Colm Bergin was successful in securing funding from Trinity College Dublin's 'CoVID-19 Response Funding Call' for his research into CoVID-19. Professor Bergin's project is An investigation of the prevalence of CoVID19 infection in frontline healthcare workers and the utility of point of care and serology testing for CoVID19 in an acute hospital.
SARS-CoV-2 is a recently identified novel coronavirus which causes COVID19 disease. As of 10/4/20, there has been more than 1.6 million reported infections globally a global case fatality rate of almost 100,000 (https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html, accessed 10/4/20). Transmission occurs between contacts through droplets (such as from sneezing or coughing) or through inoculation from virus deposited on fomites (inanimate objects as vectors for infection). Previous research has found that the spectrum of COVID19 disease ranges from asymptomatic to severe disease requiring intensive care management. Healthcare workers (HCWs) are important frontline operators in the context of managing and treating CODIV19 disease. Absence of HCWs from their role due to CoVID19 disease places an additional burden on already overstretched healthcare systems trying to manage what is now a global pandemic. This study will aim to pilot a serology (antibody) point of care test to detect CoVID19 antibodies, evaluate POCT acceptability and feasibility through a brief survey and match to blood serology testing in the laboratory. Findings from this study will help inform workforce planning in a pandemic and will inform national understanding of infection dynamics.
- To evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of a serology point of care test (POCT) compared to conventional laboratory-based serology testing for CoVID19 in a sample of HCWs tested for CoVID19 at SJH.
- To correlate serology POCT and conventional serology with PCR (swab) tests results
- To correlate CoVID19 antibody positivity with clinical illness consistent with CoVID19 infection
- To assess the sensitivity and specificity of the serology POCT and ELISA tests
This study will aim to pilot a serology (antibody) point of care test to detect CoVID19 antibodies, evaluate POCT acceptability and feasibility through a brief survey and match to blood serology testing in the laboratory. This study will also enhance understanding of the prevalence of CoVID19 among HCWs in acute care settings and potential immunoprotection to CoVID19 by correlating CoVID19 antibody (IgM/IgG) positivity with clinical illness consistent with CoVID19 infection in that population. This will in turn inform 'absence and return to work' protocols for HCWs who are contacts or suspected contacts of index CoVID19 cases based on CoVID19 serostatus. An important assumption to note here is that immunoprotection to CoVID19 is conferred by IgG positivity. While this assumption is valid for other viral infections, this has not yet been proven for CoVID19. Findings from this study will help inform workforce planning in a pandemic and will inform national understanding of infection dynamics. Findings will be submitted for publication in open access scientific publications.
COVID19 is an infectious disease that has infected millions of people worldwide and has killed hundreds of thousands. It can be spread by people who have symptoms but also by people with no symptoms at all. Health care workers are particularly at risk of contracting COVID19 in the course of their work. This can impact greatly on staffing levels in hospitals and care homes, further spread of the virus as well as illness and even death among healthcare workers and patients.
Many health care workers who have been exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus have to self-isolate in case they develop the infection and pass it on to others.
The main test that we use to pick up COVID19 disease is a swab test that can only tell if someone has the infection right now. It can't tell if a person has already had the infection and recovered from it. Antibody testing can potentially tell us if a person has had the infection in the past and if they might now have immunity. This could help workforce planning in healthcare settings in the future.
This research aims to find out how useful different types of antibody tests are in detecting past COVID19 infection, and to tell us what proportion of healthcare staff have already been infected.