Paediatrics (RCH) - Research Publications

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    International Pediatric COVID-19 Severity Over the Course of the Pandemic
    Zhu, Y ; Almeida, FJ ; Baillie, JK ; Bowen, AC ; Britton, PN ; Brizuela, ME ; Buonsenso, D ; Burgner, D ; Chew, KY ; Chokephaibulkit, K ; Cohen, C ; Cormier, SA ; Crawford, N ; Curtis, N ; Farias, CGA ; Gilks, CF ; von Gottberg, A ; Hamer, D ; Jarovsky, D ; Jassat, W ; Jesus, AR ; Kemp, LS ; Khumcha, B ; McCallum, G ; Miller, JE ; Morello, R ; Munro, APS ; Openshaw, PJM ; Padmanabhan, S ; Phongsamart, W ; Reubenson, G ; Ritz, N ; Rodrigues, F ; Rungmaitree, S ; Russell, F ; Safadi, MAP ; Saner, C ; Semple, MG ; da Silva, DGBP ; de Sousa, LMM ; Souza, MDM ; Spann, K ; Walaza, S ; Wolter, N ; Xia, Y ; Yeoh, DK ; Zar, HJ ; Zimmermann, P ; Short, KR (AMER MEDICAL ASSOC, 2023-10-01)
    IMPORTANCE: Multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants have emerged over the COVID-19 pandemic. The implications for COVID-19 severity in children worldwide are unclear. OBJECTIVE: To determine whether the dominant circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs) were associated with differences in COVID-19 severity among hospitalized children. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Clinical data from hospitalized children and adolescents (younger than 18 years) who were SARS-CoV-2 positive were obtained from 9 countries (Australia, Brazil, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, UK, and the US) during 3 different time frames. Time frames 1 (T1), 2 (T2), and 3 (T3) were defined to represent periods of dominance by the ancestral virus, pre-Omicron VOCs, and Omicron, respectively. Age groups for analysis were younger than 6 months, 6 months to younger than 5 years, and 5 to younger than 18 years. Children with an incidental positive test result for SARS-CoV-2 were excluded. EXPOSURES: SARS-CoV-2 hospitalization during the stipulated time frame. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The severity of disease was assessed by admission to intensive care unit (ICU), the need for ventilatory support, or oxygen therapy. RESULTS: Among 31 785 hospitalized children and adolescents, the median age was 4 (IQR 1-12) years and 16 639 were male (52.3%). In children younger than 5 years, across successive SARS-CoV-2 waves, there was a reduction in ICU admission (T3 vs T1: risk ratio [RR], 0.56; 95% CI, 0.42-0.75 [younger than 6 months]; RR, 0.61, 95% CI; 0.47-0.79 [6 months to younger than 5 years]), but not ventilatory support or oxygen therapy. In contrast, ICU admission (T3 vs T1: RR, 0.39, 95% CI, 0.32-0.48), ventilatory support (T3 vs T1: RR, 0.37; 95% CI, 0.27-0.51), and oxygen therapy (T3 vs T1: RR, 0.47; 95% CI, 0.32-0.70) decreased across SARS-CoV-2 waves in children 5 years to younger than 18 years old. The results were consistent when data were restricted to unvaccinated children. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: This study provides valuable insights into the impact of SARS-CoV-2 VOCs on the severity of COVID-19 in hospitalized children across different age groups and countries, suggesting that while ICU admissions decreased across the pandemic in all age groups, ventilatory and oxygen support generally did not decrease over time in children aged younger than 5 years. These findings highlight the importance of considering different pediatric age groups when assessing disease severity in COVID-19.
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    Keeping kids in school: modelling school-based testing and quarantine strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia
    Abeysuriya, RG ; Sacks-Davis, R ; Heath, K ; Delport, D ; Russell, FM ; Danchin, M ; Hellard, M ; McVernon, J ; Scott, N (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2023-06-02)
    BACKGROUND: In 2021, the Australian Government Department of Health commissioned a consortium of modelling groups to generate evidence assisting the transition from a goal of no community COVID-19 transmission to 'living with COVID-19', with adverse health and social consequences limited by vaccination and other measures. Due to the extended school closures over 2020-21, maximizing face-to-face teaching was a major objective during this transition. The consortium was tasked with informing school surveillance and contact management strategies to minimize infections and support this goal. METHODS: Outcomes considered were infections and days of face-to-face teaching lost in the 45 days following an outbreak within an otherwise COVID-naïve school setting. A stochastic agent-based model of COVID-19 transmission was used to evaluate a 'test-to-stay' strategy using daily rapid antigen tests (RATs) for close contacts of a case for 7 days compared with home quarantine; and an asymptomatic surveillance strategy involving twice-weekly screening of all students and/or teachers using RATs. FINDINGS: Test-to-stay had similar effectiveness for reducing school infections as extended home quarantine, without the associated days of face-to-face teaching lost. Asymptomatic screening was beneficial in reducing both infections and days of face-to-face teaching lost and was most beneficial when community prevalence was high. INTERPRETATION: Use of RATs in school settings for surveillance and contact management can help to maximize face-to-face teaching and minimize outbreaks. This evidence supported the implementation of surveillance testing in schools in several Australian jurisdictions from January 2022.
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    Systematic review on the impact of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine ten valent (PCV10) or thirteen valent (PCV13) on all-cause, radiologically confirmed and severe pneumonia hospitalisation rates and pneumonia mortality in children 0-9 years old
    Reyburn, R ; Tsatsaronis, A ; von Mollendorf, C ; Mulholland, K ; Russell, FM (INT SOC GLOBAL HEALTH, 2023)
    BACKGROUND: There is an ongoing need to assess the impact of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCVs) to guide the use of these potentially valuable but under-utilized vaccines against pneumonia, which is one of the most common causes of post-neonatal mortality. METHODS: We conducted a systematic review of the literature on PCV10 and PCV13 impact on all-cause, radiologically confirmed and severe pneumonia hospitalisation rates as well as all-cause and pneumonia-specific mortality rates. We included studies that were published from 2003 onwards, had a post-licensure observational study design, and reported on any of our defined outcomes in children aged between 0-9 years. We derived incidence rates (IRs), incidence rate ratios (IRRs) or percent differences (%). We assessed all studies for risk of bias using the Effective Public Health Practice Project (EPHPP) quality assessment tool. RESULTS: We identified a total of 1885 studies and included 43 comparing one or more of the following hospitalised outcomes of interest: all-cause pneumonia (n = 27), severe pneumonia (n = 6), all-cause empyema (n = 8), radiologically confirmed pneumonia (n = 8), pneumococcal pneumonia (n = 7), and pneumonia mortality (n = 10). No studies evaluated all-cause mortality. Studies were conducted in all WHO regions except South East Asia Region (SEAR) and low- or middle-income countries (LMICs) in the Western Pacific Region (WPR). Among children <5 years old, PCV impact ranged from 7% to 60% for all-cause pneumonia hospitalisation, 8% to 90% for severe pneumonia hospitalisation, 12% to 79% for radiologically confirmed pneumonia, and 45% to 85% for pneumococcal confirmed pneumonia. For pneumonia-related mortality, impact was found in three studies and ranged from 10% to 78%. No obvious differences were found in vaccine impact between PCV10 and PCV13. One study found a 17% reduction in all-cause pneumonia among children aged 5-9 years, while another found a reduction of 81% among those aged 5-17 years. A third study found a 57% reduction in all-cause empyema among children 5-14 years of age. CONCLUSION: We found clear evidence of declines in hospitalisation rates due to all-cause, severe, radiologically confirmed, and bacteraemic pneumococcal pneumonia in children aged <5 years, supporting ongoing use of PCV10 and PCV13. However, there were few studies from countries with the highest <5-year mortality and no studies from SEAR and LMICs in the WPR. Standardising methods of future PCV impact studies is recommended.
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    Key lessons from the COVID-19 public health response in Australia
    Basseal, JM ; Bennett, CM ; Collignon, P ; Currie, BJ ; Durrheim, DN ; Leask, J ; McBryde, ES ; McIntyre, P ; Russell, FM ; Smith, DW ; Sorrell, TC ; Marais, BJ (ELSEVIER, 2023-01)
    Australia avoided the worst effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but still experienced many negative impacts. Reflecting on lessons from Australia's public health response, an Australian expert panel composed of relevant discipline experts identified the following key lessons: 1) movement restrictions were effective, but their implementation requires careful consideration of adverse impacts, 2) disease modelling was valuable, but its limitations should be acknowledged, 3) the absence of timely national data requires re-assessment of national surveillance structures, 4) the utility of advanced pathogen genomics and novel vaccine technology was clearly demonstrated, 5) decision-making that is evidence informed and consultative is essential to maintain trust, 6) major system weaknesses in the residential aged-care sector require fixing, 7) adequate infection prevention and control frameworks are critically important, 8) the interests and needs of young people should not be compromised, 9) epidemics should be recognised as a 'standing threat', 10) regional and global solidarity is important. It should be acknowledged that we were unable to capture all relevant nuances and context specific differences. However, the intent of this review of Australia's public health response is to critically reflect on key lessons learnt and to encourage constructive national discussion in countries across the Western Pacific Region.
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    No long-term evidence of hyporesponsiveness after use of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in children previously immunized with pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine
    Licciardi, PV ; Toh, ZQ ; Clutterbuck, EA ; Balloch, A ; Marimla, RA ; Tikkanen, L ; Lamb, KE ; Bright, KJ ; Rabuatoka, U ; Tikoduadua, L ; Boelsen, LK ; Dunne, EM ; Satzke, C ; Cheung, YB ; Pollard, AJ ; Russell, FM ; Mulholland, EK (Elsevier, 2016-06)
    Background: A randomized controlled trial in Fiji examined the immunogenicity and effect on nasopharyngeal carriage after 0, 1, 2, or 3 doses of 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7; Prevnar) in infancy followed by 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (23vPPV; Pneumovax) at 12 months of age. At 18 months of age, children given 23vPPV exhibited immune hyporesponsiveness to a micro-23vPPV (20%) challenge dose in terms of serotype-specific IgG and opsonophagocytosis, while 23vPPV had no effect on vaccine-type carriage. Objective: This follow-up study examined the long-term effect of the 12-month 23vPPV dose by evaluating the immune response to 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) administration 4 to 5 years later. Methods: Blood samples from 194 children (now 5-7 years old) were taken before and 28 days after PCV13 booster immunization. Nasopharyngeal swabs were taken before PCV13 immunization. We measured levels of serotype-specific IgG to all 13 vaccine serotypes, opsonophagocytosis for 8 vaccine serotypes, and memory B-cell responses for 18 serotypes before and after PCV13 immunization. Results: Paired samples were obtained from 185 children. There were no significant differences in the serotype-specific IgG, opsonophagocytosis, or memory B-cell response at either time point between children who did or did not receive 23vPPV at 12 months of age. Nasopharyngeal carriage of PCV7 and 23vPPV serotypes was similar among the groups. Priming with 1, 2, or 3 PCV7 doses during infancy did not affect serotype-specific immunity or carriage. Conclusion: Immune hyporesponsiveness induced by 23vPPV in toddlers does not appear to be sustained among preschool children in this context and does not affect the pneumococcal carriage rate in this age group.
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    The impact of the introduction of ten- or thirteen-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccines on antimicrobial-resistant pneumococcal disease and carriage: A systematic literature review
    Reyburn, R ; Maher, J ; von Mollendorf, C ; Gwee, A ; Mulholland, K ; Russell, F (INT SOC GLOBAL HEALTH, 2023)
    BACKGROUND: A systematic review in 2019 found reductions in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) of pneumococcal vaccine serotypes following pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) introduction. However, few low- or middle-income countries were included as not many had introduced higher valent PCVs (PCV10 or PCV13). The aim of our review is to describe AMR rates in these samples following the introduction of PCV10 or PCV13. METHODS: We conducted a systematic literature review of published papers that compared AMR for invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD), otitis media (OM) and nasopharyngeal carriage (NPC) samples following introduction of PCV10 or PCV13 to the pre-PCV period. Included studies published from July 2017 to August 2020 had a post-licensure observational study design and reported on our defined outcomes: IPD, OM, NPC and other (sputum or mixed invasive and non-invasive pneumococcal) isolates from people of all ages. Rates of AMR in the pre- and post-period were extracted. RESULTS: Data were extracted from 31 studies. Among IPD isolates, penicillin AMR rates following PCV10 or PCV13 introduction declined in 32% (n = 9/29) of included studies, increased in 34% (n = 10/29) and showed no change in 34% (n = 10/29). Cephalosporins AMR declined in 32% (n = 6/19) of studies, increased in 21% (n = 4/19) and showed no change in 47% (n = 9/19). Macrolides AMR declined in 33% (n = 4/12) of studies, increased in 50% (n = 6/12), and showed no change in 17% (n = 2/12). AMR to other antibiotics (including multidrug resistance) declined in 23% (n = 9/39) of studies, increased in 41% (n = 16/39) and showed no change in AMR in 36% (n = 14/39). There were no obvious differences between AMR; in setting which used PCV10 vs PCV13, according to time since PCV introduction or by World Bank income status of the respective country. The only study including OM isolates found no change in penicillin resistance. There were few studies on AMR in NPC (four studies), OM (one study) or other isolates (five studies). The results followed similar patterns to IPD isolates. CONCLUSIONS: We observed considerable heterogeneity in the findings between and within studies, e.g. no evidence of reduction in amoxicillin AMR with an increase in macrolides AMR. Reasons for such diverse findings include the period covered by different studies and variation in other pressures towards AMR.
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    What are the risk factors for death among children with pneumonia in low- and middle-income countries? A systematic review
    Wilkes, C ; Bava, M ; Graham, HR ; Duke, T (INT SOC GLOBAL HEALTH, 2023)
    BACKGROUND: Knowledge of the risk factors for and causes of treatment failure and mortality in childhood pneumonia is important for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment at an individual and population level. This review aimed to identify the most important risk factors for mortality among children aged under ten years with pneumonia. METHODS: We systematically searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PubMed for observational and interventional studies reporting risk factors for mortality in children (aged two months to nine years) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We screened articles according to specified inclusion and exclusion criteria, assessed risk of bias using the EPHPP framework, and extracted data on demographic, clinical, and laboratory risk factors for death. We synthesized data descriptively and using Forest plots and did not attempt meta-analysis due to the heterogeneity in study design, definitions, and populations. FINDINGS: We included 143 studies in this review. Hypoxaemia (low blood oxygen level), decreased conscious state, severe acute malnutrition, and the presence of an underlying chronic condition were the risk factors most strongly and consistently associated with increased mortality in children with pneumonia. Additional important clinical factors that were associated with mortality in the majority of studies included particular clinical signs (cyanosis, pallor, tachypnoea, chest indrawing, convulsions, diarrhoea), chronic comorbidities (anaemia, HIV infection, congenital heart disease, heart failure), as well as other non-severe forms of malnutrition. Important demographic factors associated with mortality in the majority of studies included age <12 months and inadequate immunisation. Important laboratory and investigation findings associated with mortality in the majority of studies included: confirmed Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (PJP), consolidation on chest x-ray, pleural effusion on chest x-ray, and leukopenia. Several other demographic, clinical and laboratory findings were associated with mortality less consistently or in a small numbers of studies. CONCLUSIONS: Risk assessment for children with pneumonia should include routine evaluation for hypoxaemia (pulse oximetry), decreased conscious state (e.g. AVPU), malnutrition (severe, moderate, and stunting), and the presence of an underlying chronic condition as these are strongly and consistently associated with increased mortality. Other potentially useful risk factors include the presence of pallor or anaemia, chest indrawing, young age (<12 months), inadequate immunisation, and leukopenia.
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    A single dose of quadrivalent HPV vaccine is highly effective against HPV genotypes 16 and 18 detection in young pregnant women eight years following vaccination: an retrospective cohort study in Fiji
    Reyburn, R ; Tuivaga, E ; Ratu, T ; Young, S ; Garland, SM ; Murray, G ; Cornall, A ; Tabrizi, S ; Nguyen, CD ; Jenkins, K ; Tikoduadua, L ; Kado, J ; Kama, M ; Rafai, E ; Devi, R ; Mulholland, K ; Fong, J ; Russell, FM (ELSEVIER, 2023-08)
    BACKGROUND: In 2008/9, Fiji vaccinated >30,000 girls aged 9-12 years with the quadrivalent human papillomavirus (4vHPV) vaccine coverage for at least one dose was >60% (one dose only was 14%, two dose only was 13%, three doses was 35%). We calculated vaccine effectiveness (VE) of one, two and three doses of 4vHPV against oncogenic HPV genotypes 16/18, eight years following vaccination. METHODS: A retrospective cohort study was undertaken (2015-2019) in pregnant women ≤23 years old, eligible to receive 4vHPV in 2008/9, with confirmed vaccination status. The study was restricted to pregnant women due to the cultural sensitivity of asking about sexual behavior in Fiji. For each participant a clinician collected a questionnaire, vaginal swab and genital warts examination, a median eight (range 6-11) years post vaccination. HPV DNA was detected by molecular methods. Adjusted VE (aVE) against the detection of vaccine HPV genotypes (16/18), the comparison group of non-vaccine genotypes (31/33/35/39/45/51/52/56/58/59/66/68), and genital warts were calculated. Covariates included in the adjusted model were: age, ethnicity and smoking, according to univariate association with any HPV detection. FINDINGS: Among 822 participants the prevalence of HPV 16/18 in the unvaccinated, one, two and three-dose groups were 13.3% (50/376), 2.5% (4/158), 0% (0/99) and 1.6% (3/189), respectively; and for the non-vaccine high-risk genotypes, the detection rate was similar across dosage groups (33.2%-40.4%, p = 0.321). The aVE against HPV 16/18 for one, two and three doses were 81% (95% CI; 48-93%), 100% (95% CI; 100-100%), and 89% (95% CI; 64-96%), respectively. Prevalence of HPV 16/18 was lower among women with longer time since vaccination. INTERPRETATIONS: A single dose 4vHPV vaccine is highly effective against HPV genotypes 16 and 18 eight years following vaccination. Our results provide the longest duration of protection for reduced dose 4vHPV schedule in a low- or middle-income country in the Western Pacific region. FUNDING: This study was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian Government and Fiji Health Sector Support Program (FHSSP). FHSSP is implemented by Abt JTA on behalf of the Australian Government.
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    Haemophilus influenzae serotype b seroprevalence in central Lao PDR before and after vaccine introduction.
    Hefele, L ; Lai, J ; Vilivong, K ; Bounkhoun, T ; Chanthaluanglath, V ; Chanthongthip, A ; Balloch, A ; Black, AP ; Hübschen, JM ; Russell, FM ; Muller, CP ; Borrow, R (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2022)
    INTRODUCTION: Vaccination has dramatically reduced invasive Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) disease worldwide. Hib vaccination was introduced in the Lao PDR in 2009, as part of the pentavalent vaccine. To contribute to the understanding of the epidemiology of Hib in Lao PDR and the protection levels before and after the introduction of the vaccination, we tested serum samples from existing cohorts of vaccine age-eligible children and unvaccinated adolescents for antibodies against Hib. METHODS: Serum samples from 296 adolescents born before vaccine introduction and from 1017 children under 5 years (vaccinated and unvaccinated) were tested for anti-Hib antibodies by ELISA. Bivariate analyses were performed to investigate factors associated with long-term protection. RESULTS: The vast majority of all participants showed evidence of short- (42.7%) or long-term (56.1%) protection against Hib. Almost all of the unvaccinated adolescents had antibody titers indicating short-term protection and almost half (45.6%) were long-term protected. Nearly all children (>99.0%) were at least short-term protected, even those that were unvaccinated or whose vaccination status was unknown. Among vaccinated children, participants vaccinated more than 1 or 2 years ago and with a mid-upper arm circumference z-score < -2 were less likely to be long-term protected. DISCUSSION: Nearly all adolescents born before the introduction of Hib vaccination in the Lao PDR had antibody titers corresponding to at least short-term protection, indicating a high burden of Hib disease at that time. After vaccine introduction, all but four children (>99%) showed at least short-term protection. Possible explanations for the proportion of protected, yet apparently unvaccinated children, may be past infections, cross-reacting antibodies or faulty vaccination documentation. Our results highlight the need for robust surveillance and reporting of invasive Hib disease to determine the burden of disease despite vaccination.
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    Can child pneumonia in low-resource settings be treated without antibiotics? A systematic review & meta-analysis.
    Walker, PJ ; Wilkes, C ; Duke, T ; Graham, HR ; ARI Review group, (International Society of Global Health, 2022-11-12)
    BACKGROUND: WHO guidelines recommend the use of antibiotics for all cases of pneumonia in children, despite the majority being caused by viruses. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to determine which children aged 2-59 months with WHO-defined fast breathing pneumonia, if any, can be safely treated without antibiotics. METHODS: We systematically searched medical databases for articles published in the last 20 years. We included both observational and interventional studies that compared antibiotics to no antibiotics in children aged 2-59 months diagnosed with fast breathing pneumonia in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We screened articles according to specified inclusion and exclusion criteria, and assessed for risk of bias using the Effective Public Health Practice Project (EPHPP) framework. Overall, we included 13 studies in this review. We performed a meta-analysis of four included studies comparing amoxicillin to placebo. RESULTS: Most children with fast breathing pneumonia will have a good outcome, regardless of whether or not they are treated with antibiotics. Meta-analysis of four RCTs comparing amoxicillin to placebo for children with pneumonia showed higher risk of treatment failure in the placebo group (odds ratio OR 1.40, 95% confidence interval CI = 1.00-1.96). We did not identify any child pneumonia subgroups in whom antibiotics can be safely omitted. Limited data suggest that infants with clinically-diagnosed bronchiolitis are a particular low-mortality group who may be safely treated without antibiotics in some contexts. CONCLUSIONS: Children with WHO-defined fast breathing pneumonia in LMICs should continue to be treated with antibiotics. Future studies should seek to identify which children stand to benefit most from antibiotic therapy, and identify those in whom antibiotics may not be required, and in which circumstances.