Some highlights and takeaways from Infection Prevention 2022

I spent a lovely few days down in Bournemouth for Infection Prevention 2022, and thought I’d share a few of my highlights and takeaways. (And yes, I did manage to have a swim in the sea!)

JVT is a legend

It was a pleasure to listen to Professor Sir Jonathan Van Tam speak to us about his experiences of the pandemic. He was open about the challenges of advising government, dealing with uncertainty, being part of a hugely accelerated and ultimately successful vaccination programme, and becoming a public figure. My favorite part was this moving timeline of community SARS-CoV-2 antibody prevalence as an illustration of the vaccination programme:

It’s time for COVID-19 to fade into history/endemicity

Professor Dale Fisher gave a helpful overview of the challenges of healthcare-associated COVID-19, which has come and gone in step with the various epidemic waves within the pandemic. At the start of the pandemic, the role of IPC was to sound the alarm and minimise the harms associated with COVID-19 – working within the bounds of considerable uncertainty. Now that the harm profile of COVID-19 has changed considerably, and it’s a much milder disease, the role of IPC becomes more focused on supporting the safest possible transition to something approximating pre-pandemic normal.

We’re hungry for sustainability and IPC to work in partnership

There were countless sessions about sustainability – should we move towards reusable PPE? How do we support a sustainable supply chain? What are the unintended consequences of a massive uplift in PPE requirements (including overseas forced labour)? I participated in a debate with the amazing Rose Gallagher (we’re still friends!) about whether or not IPC is the enemy of sustainability (my slides here). I’m pleased that the majority of the audience agreed with me that IPC isn’t the enemy of sustainability. However, I would hate for that to detract from the need for us to take individual and collective action for IPC to more effectively support the delivery of sustainable healthcare. A good start here would be an IPS sustainability strategy!

Better systems for comparative technology evaluation are needed

I heard a few times that stand-alone air disinfection systems have a place in our hospitals (and other places where healthcare is delivered) in order to mitigate the impact of inadequate ventilation. We presented a poster (here), which was a comparative evaluation of four of these systems. But this work has posed more questions than answers for me (see here for more on this). And this is just one product category. We had two conference halls packed full of potential in reducing HCAI and AMR risk across various areas of our practice. But how do we know whether they work? And how do we choose which one? We need better systems for the comparative evaluation of technology that has the potential to reduce HCAI and AMR risk.

Thanks to the organising committee, the exhibitors, those who journeyed to Bournemouth, and others involved in putting on a fantastic and thought-provoking conference.


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