HIS webinar on challenges and solutions related to IPC for COVID-19

The Healthcare Infection Society has put out a rather innovative interactive webinar on some challenges and solutions related to IPC for COVID-19. The webinar was an expert panel Q&A format, and worked really well.

The panel was chaired by Prof Hilary Humphreys (a consultant microbiologist) and included Cariad Evans (consultant virologist), Peter Hoffman (consultant clinical scientist), Martin Kiernan (infection control nurse – and fellow blogger!), and Chris Settle (consultant microbiologist).

Here’s the webinar, with some of my notes below.

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There’s more to IPC & AMS than COVID-19

As parts of the world begin to contemplate life on the other side of this pandemic, it’s time to address that niggle in the back of our minds as our attention has been focussed on COVID-19: what’s been happening with those other HCAI and AMR issues that usually occupy our days (and nights)? This helpful opinion piece in ICHE discusses the impact of COVID-19 on our usual HCAI & AMR practice.

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Explore the spread of COVID-19

A quick blog to flag a truly brilliant piece of interactive applied epidemiology. This lovely little calculator allows you to play around with the visualisation of country temporal trends in confirmed cases, reported deaths, and recovered cases.

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COVID-19: Learning rapidly from an overwhelmed healthcare system in Bergamo, Italy

A very sobering piece published in NEJM Catalyst Innovations in Care Delivery (a new digital journal in the NEJM group) describes a catastrophic situation in a hospital in Bergamo, Italy, which has been overrun by COVID-19. We all have much to learn from this experience: about pandemic preparedness, response, and the key role of IPC at all stages of this pandemic.

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COVID-19 – visualising the impact of social distancing

As we move through the gears of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK has entered lockdown – total social distancing. I’ve had many conversations with friends and family about what’s going on and why these extreme measures are necessary. I’ve pointed everybody who’s asked to the Imperial College London modelling, predicting a rapidly overwhelmed healthcare system if the trajectory of the UK epidemic doesn’t change. And pointed them in the direction of these rather cool visualisations of the logic behind social distancing (by cartoonist Toby Morris and microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles):

social distancing impact

COVID-19: hello social distancing

The UK government yesterday announced a far-reaching package of social distancing measures to suppress the spread of COVID-19. These are based on some Imperial College London modelling work, published here. The model predicts that the UK approach to mitigate the impact of the UK epidemic would indeed reduce the overall number of people affected and those who die, but would still leave hundreds of thousands dead in an overwhelmed healthcare system. In contrast, a more intensive suppression approach would be effective in reversing the epidemic trend and keep the number of new cases to a low level – in the short term, at least.

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Considering the role of environmental contamination in the spread of COVID-19

We know that respiratory viruses can be spread through droplets, occasionally aerosols, and contact routes (see Figure 1). But what is the relative importance of these transmission routes for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19? A new pre-print paper published yesterday provides evidence that the stability of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is broadly comparable to the ‘original’ SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV-1) on dry surfaces and in aerosols. This paper supports an important role for dry surface contamination and aerosols in the spread of SARS-CoV-2, and suggests that improved environmental persistence isn’t the key to the relative success of SARS-CoV-2 over SARS-CoV-1.

Figure 1: Transmission routes of respiratory viruses (from this review article).

covid transmission routes

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Developing antimicrobial “smart surfaces” to tackle HCAI and AMR

I participated in a launch event by the Institute of Molecular Science and Engineering (IMSE) at Imperial College London yesterday for a new white paper on developing “smart surfaces” to tackle HCAI and AMR.

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Using machine learning to super-charge anti-infective drug discovery: the case of Halicin

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Yes, it’s true. There is more to HCAI & AMR (and this blog) than COVID-19! To prove it, I’m posting on something different today – the use of AI to streamline the anti-infective drug discovery process. Scientists at MIT have used machine learning (aka “deep learning”) to improve the drug discovery process, by predicting antimicrobial activity in molecules that are different from known antibiotics. This process has yielded Halicin, a promising candidate molecule for a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent – which is, of course, a long way from clinical trials!

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