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HIQA publishes Covid-19 evidence summaries to support work of NPHET

By Mindo - 01st Apr 2020

HIQA has published four summaries of academic research and evidence to answer specific research questions posed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) on Covid-19.

The evidence summaries were requested by the NPHET’s clinical expert advisory group and aim to support the national response to the outbreak.

Each summary was developed following a “thorough search” of bibliographic databases, screening of identified studies to match relevant clinical questions, data extraction and appraisal of included studies. HIQA published a protocol outlining this process last week.

According to HIQA, this “robust process ensures that public health decisions are made based on the best available evidence and information from across the world”.

The four documents published today summarise the evidence available to answer the following research questions:

1.       What is the viral load over the course of the infection (including any asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic phase), and the duration of infectivity?

2.       What is the natural history of Covid-19 in children?

3.       What evidence is available to indicate that children spread Covid-19?

4.       What is the average or median length of stay in the intensive care unit (ICU) for affected persons?

The documents are available on HIQA’s website https://www.hiqa.ie/ .

HIQA CEO Mr Phelim Quinn said: “We are working very closely with the HSE and the Department of Health, alongside other public health organisations, to provide support during the current Covid-19 pandemic. We have re-oriented our resources and expertise in an effort to provide evidence to inform the public health response. Our priority remains the health and safety of people using health and social care services.”

According to HIQA, it also continues to support the public health response to Covid-19 through membership of the NPHET and its subgroups, as well as supporting the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) to update national guidelines by conducting rapid reviews on international practices and policies.

A rapid health technology assessment on Covid-19 testing is also currently underway, as well as support to the NPHET Irish epidemiological modelling advisory group.

HIQA’s Deputy CEO and Director of Health Technology Assessment, Dr Máirín Ryan, chairs the NPHET subgroup on guidance and evidence synthesis.

The Authority said it is providing guidance and support to designated centres; risk assessing nursing homes; establishing an infection control hub to provide advice and assistance to nursing homes and disability centres; carrying out contact tracing; and prioritising the registration of additional beds in the social care system.

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