List of publications

On antibacterial drugs for treponematoses therapy

  • Hoyos-Mallecot Y, Garcia JN, Sulleiro E, Esperalba J, Salmeron P, Zarzuela F, et al. Drassanes Exprés: a public and confidential testing service for asymptomatic STIs with same-day result notification. Sexually Transmitted Infections. 2021. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Background STIs are a major public health concern. Screening programmes for asymptomatic users are key components of STI control. Traditional limitations of screening programmes include low population coverage and delays in treatments, thus reducing the expected impact on STI control. In our centre, the normal time from test to results was 4 days, and 7 days until treatment was established.To reduce time to treatment and to increase population coverage, we developed Drassanes Exprés, a testing service for asymptomatic STIs. The objectives of this study were to provide a guide for the implementation of a service with these characteristics and to evaluate the results of this intervention.Methods The Drassanes Exprés programme was launched in Spain on 07 November 2016 as a public, confidential and free-of-charge testing service for asymptomatic STIs, with same-day result notification. For this walk-in service, confidentiality was obtained by registering all information into the Laboratory Internal Software instead of the Electronic Patient Records. Samples were processed in a point-of-care laboratory and result notification was provided via mail or short message service.Information about workflow, screening protocols and result interpretation is detailed. Additionally, demographic characteristics, STI prevalence, and time from patients sample collection to notification and treatment are analysed.Results Between 07 November 2016 and 07 November 2019, 13 993 users attended the Drassanes Exprés screening programme. Of these, 0.5% were transgender people, 29.3% women, 45.2% men who have sex with men and 25.1% men who have sex with women. The median age was 31 years (range: 2639 years). Overall, 14.6% of users tested positive for at least one STI. The most prevalent infection was Chlamydia trachomatis (8.3%), followed by Neisseria gonorrhoeae (5.7%), syphilis (1.8%), HIV (0.4%) and hepatitis C virus (0.2%). The median time from test to results was 2.4 hours (range: 23.1 hours). Of 2049 users diagnosed with an STI, treatment was achieved in 97.0% of cases; the average time to treatment was 2.0 days.Conclusions Drassanes Exprés is the first public programme for rapid, asymptomatic, STI screening and treatment in Spain. Assessing high-risk practices and providing confidentiality, easy access and rapid results/treatments are key elements in the development of STI screening programmes.Data are available upon reasonable request. All data relevant to the study are included in the article, however more detailed protocols are available upon request.

  • Haynes AM, Giacani L, Mayans MV, Ubals M, Nieto C, Pérez-Mañá C, et al. Efficacy of linezolid on Treponema pallidum, the syphilis agent: A preclinical study. EBioMedicine. 2021;65. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Penicillin G, the current standard treatment for syphilis, has important drawbacks, but virtually no preclinical or clinical studies have been performed to identify viable alternatives. We tested, both in vitro and in vivo, three marketed antibiotics with adequate pharmacological properties to treat syphilis.

  • Fernández-Naval C, Arando M, Espasa M, Antón A, Fernández-Huerta M, Silgado A, et al. Multilocus sequence typing of Treponema pallidum subsp. pallidum in Barcelona. Future Microbiology. 2021;16(13):967--976. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Aim: To implement the multilocus sequence typing (MLST) methodology in syphilis samples previously characterized by enhanced CDC typing (ECDCT) and macrolide resistance. Materials & methods: MLST was performed on genital ulcer and blood samples by analyzing a region of the tp0136, tp0548 and tp0705 loci using Sanger sequencing. Results: Up to 59/85 (69.4%) of genital ulcer and 4/39 (10.3%) of whole blood samples were fully typed. The most frequent profiles were 1.3.1 (56%) and 1.1.1 (11%). All the 1.3.1 samples typed carried the A2058G mutation, responsible for macrolide resistance. MLST and ECDCT showed similar overall typing yields. Conclusion: Several allelic profiles of T. pallidum subsp. pallidum were identified and classified into two major genetic clades in Barcelona. Our results were similar to that described in Europe.

  • de Vries HJC, Nori AV, Kiellberg Larsen H, Kreuter A, Padovese V, Pallawela S, et al. 2021 European Guideline on the management of proctitis, proctocolitis and enteritis caused by sexually transmissible pathogens. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Abstract This guideline intents to offer guidance on the diagnosis and management of patients with gastrointestinal symptoms and a suspected sexually transmitted cause. Proctitis is defined as an inflammatory syndrome of the anal canal and/or the rectum. Infectious proctitis can be sexually transmitted via genital–anal mucosal contact, but some also via digital contact and toys. Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Chlamydia trachomatis (including lymphogranuloma venereum), Treponema pallidum and herpes simplex virus are the most common sexually transmitted anorectal pathogens. Shigellosis can be transferred via oral–anal contact and may lead to proctocolitis or enteritis. Although most studies on these infections have concentrated on men who have sex with men (MSM), women having anal intercourse may also be at risk. A presumptive clinical diagnosis of proctitis can be made when there are symptoms and signs, and a definitive diagnosis when the results of laboratory tests are available. The symptoms of proctitis include anorectal itching, pain, tenesmus, bleeding, constipation and discharge in and around the anal canal. The majority of rectal chlamydia and gonococcal infections are asymptomatic and can only be detected by laboratory tests. Therefore, especially when there is a history of receptive anal contact, exclusion of anorectal infections is generally indicated as part of standard screening for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Condom use does not guarantee protection from STIs, which are often spread without penile penetration. New in this updated guideline is: (i) lymphogranuloma venereum proctitis is increasingly found in HIV-negative MSM, (ii) anorectal Mycoplasma genitalium infection should be considered in patients with symptomatic proctitis after exclusion of other common causations such N. gonorrhoeae, C. trachomatis, syphilis and herpes, (iii) intestinal spirochetosis incidentally found in colonic biopsies should not be confused with syphilis, and (iv) traumatic causes of proctitis should be considered in sexually active patients.

On strategies for Yaws eradication

Selected publications:

  • John LN, Beiras CG, Houinei W, Medappa M, Sabok M, Kolmau R, et al. Trial of Three Rounds of Mass Azithromycin Administration for Yaws Eradication. New England Journal of Medicine. 2022;386(1):47--56. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Treponema pallidum subspecies pertenue causes yaws. Strategies to better control, eliminate, and eradicate yaws are needed. In an open-label, cluster-randomized, community-based trial conducted in a yaws-endemic area of Papua New Guinea, we randomly assigned 38 wards (i.e., clusters) to receive one round of mass administration of azithromycin followed by two rounds of target treatment of active cases (control group) or three rounds of mass administration of azithromycin (experimental group); round 1 was administered at baseline, round 2 at 6 months, and round 3 at 12 months. The coprimary end points were the prevalence of active cases of yaws, confirmed by polymerase-chain-reaction assay, in the entire trial population and the prevalence of latent yaws, confirmed by serologic testing, in a subgroup of asymptomatic children 1 to 15 years of age; prevalences were measured at 18 months, and the between-group differences were calculated.

  • John LN, Gonzalez-Beiras C, Vall-Mayans M, Kolmau R, Houinei W, Wangi J, et al. Safety of mass drug coadministration with ivermectin, diethylcarbamazine, albendazole, and azithromycin for the integrated treatment of neglected tropical diseases: a cluster randomized community trial. The Lancet Regional Health -- Western Pacific. 2021. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Neglected tropical diseases control programmes run separately. For settings with more than one endemic disease, combined mass drug administration (MDA) has potential practical advantages compared with separate programmes but needs confirmation of safety. We assessed the safety of combined MDA for multiple neglected tropical diseases using ivermectin, diethylcarbamazine, albendazole (IDA) and azithromycin (AZI).

  • Grant JC, González-Beiras C, Amick KM, Fortney KR, Gangaiah D, Humphreys TL, et al. Multiple Class I and Class II Haemophilus ducreyi Strains Cause Cutaneous Ulcers in Children on an Endemic Island. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2018;67(11):1768--1774. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Together with Treponema pallidum subspecies pertenue, Haemophilus ducreyi is a major cause of exudative cutaneous ulcers (CUs) in children. For H. ducreyi, both class I and class II strains, asymptomatic colonization, and environmental reservoirs have been found in endemic regions, but the epidemiology of this infection is unknown.Based on published whole-genome sequences of H. ducreyi CU strains, a single-locus typing system was developed and applied to H. ducreyi–positive CU samples obtained prior to, 1 year after, and 2 years after the initiation of a mass drug administration campaign to eradicate CU on Lihir Island in Papua New Guinea. DNA from the CU samples was amplified with class I and class II dsrA-specific primers and sequenced; the samples were classified into dsrA types, which were geospatially mapped. Selection pressure analysis was performed on the dsrA sequences.Thirty-seven samples contained class I sequences, 27 contained class II sequences, and 13 contained both. There were 5 class I and 4 class II types circulating on the island; 3 types accounted for approximately 87
    % of the strains. The composition and geospatial distribution of the types varied little over time and there was no evidence of selection pressure.Multiple strains of H. ducreyi cause CU on an endemic island and coinfections are common. In contrast to recent findings with T. pallidum pertenue, strain composition is not affected by antibiotic pressure, consistent with environmental reservoirs of H. ducreyi. Such reservoirs must be addressed to achieve eradication of H. ducreyi.

  • Marks M, Mitjà O, Bottomley C, Kwakye C, Houinei W, Bauri M, et al. Comparative efficacy of low-dose versus standard-dose azithromycin for patients with yaws: a randomised non-inferiority trial in Ghana and Papua New Guinea. The Lancet Global Health. 2018;6(4):e401--e410. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    A dose of 30 mg/kg of azithromycin is recommended for treatment of yaws, a disease targeted for global eradication. Treatment with 20 mg/kg of azithromycin is recommended for the elimination of trachoma as a public health problem. In some settings, these diseases are co-endemic. We aimed to determine the efficacy of 20 mg/kg of azithromycin compared with 30 mg/kg azithromycin for the treatment of active and latent yaws.

  • Mitjà O, Godornes C, Houinei W, Kapa A, Paru R, Abel H, et al. Re-emergence of yaws after single mass azithromycin treatment followed by targeted treatment: a longitudinal study. The Lancet. 2018;391(10130):1599--1607. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Yaws is a substantial cause of chronic disfiguring ulcers in children in at least 14 countries in the tropics. WHO's newly adopted strategy for yaws eradication uses a single round of mass azithromycin treatment followed by targeted treatment programmes, and data from pilot studies have shown a short-term significant reduction of yaws. We assessed the long-term efficacy of the WHO strategy for yaws eradication.

  • Houinei W, Godornes C, Kapa A, Knauf S, Mooring EQ, González-Beiras C, et al. Haemophilus ducreyi DNA is detectable on the skin of asymptomatic children, flies and fomites in villages of Papua New Guinea. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. 2017;11(5):1--10. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Author summary Children in rural communities of tropical countries often suffer skin ulcers that are caused by the bacteria Haemophilus ducreyi–causative agent of chancroid- and Treponema pallidum subsp. pertenue -causative agent of yaws-. The currently recommended strategy for yaws eradication is one round of mass drug administration (MDA) with azithromycin. We attempted to find reasons for the limited impact of yaws MDA on the prevalence of H. ducreyi leg ulcers by examining potential sources of infection in healthy carriers, flies, and bed linen. H. ducreyi DNA was found in skin swabs from 20% of asymptomatic children, in 9/10 flies, and 3/6 bed sheets from the houses of children with ulcers. While H. ducreyi DNA has been detected in the genital tract of asymptomatic women without genital ulcers, this is the first report of such detection on the skin of asymptomatic individuals. Importantly, skin cultures obtained from two asymptomatic children yielded viable H. ducreyi, confirming colonization and a potential reservoir of infection. If confirmed to contain viable bacteria, flies and fomites may also contribute to the continued presence of this infection after mass treatment with azithromycin. Our findings provide evidence that persistence of H. ducreyi ulcers after antibiotic MDA is due to the ubiquity of the organism in the environment. Improved hygiene and additional strategies such as repeated rounds of MDA could be able to control such a reservoir.

  • González-Beiras C, Kapa A, Vall-Mayans M, Paru R, Gavilán S, Houinei W, et al. Single-Dose Azithromycin for the Treatment of Haemophilus ducreyi Skin Ulcers in Papua New Guinea. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2017;65(12):2085--2090. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Haemophilus ducreyi (HD) and Treponema pallidum subspecies pertenue (TP) are major causative agents of cutaneous ulcer (CU) in the tropics. Azithromycin is recommended to treat sexually transmitted HD infections and has good in vitro activity against HD strains from both genital and skin ulcers. We investigated the efficacy of oral single-dose azithromycin on HD-CU.We conducted a community-based cohort study in Lihir Island, Papua New Guinea, from October 2014 through May 2016. Consenting patients with skin ulcers
    >1 cm in diameter were eligible for this study and had collected a lesional swab for polymerase chain reaction (PCR). All participants were treated with single-dose azithromycin (30 mg/kg) and were followed up for assessment of clinical resolution. We retrospectively classified patients according to PCR results into HD, TP, and PCR-negative groups. The primary endpoint was healing rates of HD-CU at 14 days after treatment.We obtained full outcome data from 246 patients; 131 (53.3
    %) were HD PCR positive, 37 (15.0
    %) were TP positive, and 78 (31.7
    %) were negative for all tests. Healing rates were 88.5
    % (95
    % confidence interval [CI], .82–.93) in the HD group, 78.4
    % [95
    % CI, .63–.89] in the TP group, and 74.4
    % (95
    % CI, .64–.83) in the PCR-negative group. If we included the participants with improved ulcers, the healing rates increased to 94.7
    %, 97.3
    %, and 89.7
    % respectively. HD cases classified as not healed all converted to HD-negative PCR.Based upon clinical resolution and PCR conversion to HD negative, a single oral dose of azithromycin is efficacious for the treatment of HD-CU. These results have implications for the treatment of individual patients and for the use of antibiotics in public health strategies to control CU in the tropics.

  • Mitjà O, González-Beiras C, Godornes C, Kolmau R, Houinei W, Abel H, et al. Effectiveness of single-dose azithromycin to treat latent yaws: a longitudinal comparative cohort study. The Lancet Global Health. 2017;5(12):e1268--e1274. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Treatment of latent yaws is a crucial component of the WHO yaws eradication strategy to prevent relapse and the resulting transmission to uninfected children. We assessed the effectiveness of single-dose azithromycin to treat patients with latent yaws.

  • González-Beiras C, Marks M, Chen Y C, Roberts S, Mitjà O. Epidemiology of Haemophilus ducreyi Infections. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2016;22(1):1--8. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    The global epidemiology of Haemophilus ducreyi infections is poorly documented because of difficulties in confirming microbiological diagnoses. We evaluated published data on the proportion of genital and nongenital skin ulcers caused by H. ducreyi before and after introduction of syndromic management for genital ulcer disease (GUD). Before 2000, the proportion of GUD caused by H. ducreyi ranged from 0.0% to 69.0% (35 studies in 25 countries). After 2000, the proportion ranged from 0.0% to 15.0% (14 studies in 13 countries). In contrast, H. ducreyi has been recently identified as a causative agent of skin ulcers in children in the tropical regions; proportions ranged from 9.0% to 60.0% (6 studies in 4 countries). We conclude that, although there has been a sustained reduction in the proportion of GUD caused by H. ducreyi, this bacterium is increasingly recognized as a major cause of nongenital cutaneous ulcers.

  • Mitjà O, Marks M, Konan DJP, Ayelo G, Gonzalez-Beiras C, Boua B, et al. Global epidemiology of yaws: a systematic review. The Lancet Global Health. 2015;3(6):e324--e331. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    To achieve yaws eradication, the use of the new WHO strategy of initial mass treatment with azithromycin and surveillance twice a year needs to be extended everywhere the disease occurs. However, the geographic scope of the disease is unknown. We aimed to synthesise published and unpublished work to update the reported number of people with yaws at national and subnational levels and to estimate at-risk populations.

  • Marks M, Mitjà O, Vestergaard LS, Pillay A, Knauf S, Chen CY, et al. Challenges and key research questions for yaws eradication. The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2015;15(10):1220--1225. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Yaws is endemic in west Africa, southeast Asia, and the Pacific region. To eradicate yaws by 2020, WHO has launched a campaign of mass treatment with azithromycin. Progress has been made towards achievement of this ambitious goal, including the validation of point-of-care and molecular diagnostic tests and piloting of the strategy in several countries, including Ghana, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea. Gaps in knowledge need to be addressed to allow refinement of the eradication strategy. Studies exploring determinants of the spatial distribution of yaws are needed to help with the completion of baseline mapping. The finding that Haemophilus ducreyi causes lesions similar to yaws is particularly important and further work is needed to assess the effect of azithromycin on these lesions. The integration of diagnostic tests into different stages of the eradication campaign needs investigation. Finally, studies must be done to inform the optimum mass-treatment strategy for sustainable interruption of transmission.

  • Mitjà O, Houinei W, Moses P, Kapa A, Paru R, Hays R, et al. Mass Treatment with Single-Dose Azithromycin for Yaws. New England Journal of Medicine. 2015;372(8):703--710. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Mass treatment with azithromycin is a central component of the new World Health Organization (WHO) strategy to eradicate yaws. Empirical data on the effectiveness of the strategy are required as a prerequisite for worldwide implementation of the plan.

  • Ayove T, Houniei W, Wangnapi R, Bieb SV, Kazadi W, Luke LN, et al. Sensitivity and specificity of a rapid point-of-care test for active yaws: a comparative study. The Lancet Global Health. 2014;2(7):e415--e421. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    To eradicate yaws, national control programmes use the Morges strategy (initial mass treatment and biannual resurveys). The resurvey component is designed to actively detect and treat remaining yaws cases and is initiated on the basis of laboratory-supported reactive non-treponemal serology (using the rapid plasma reagin [RPR] test). Unfortunately, the RPR test is available rarely in yaws-endemic areas. We sought to assess a new point-of-care assay?the Dual Path Platform (DPP) syphilis assay, which is based on simultaneous detection of antibodies to treponemal and non-treponemal antigens?for guiding use of antibiotics for yaws eradication. A secondary goal was to ascertain at what timepoint the DPP assay line reverted to negative after treatment.

  • Mitjà O, Lukehart SA, Pokowas G, Moses P, Kapa A, Godornes C, et al. Haemophilus ducreyi as a cause of skin ulcers in children from a yaws-endemic area of Papua New Guinea: a prospective cohort study. The Lancet Global Health. 2014;2(4):e235--e241. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Skin infections with ulceration are a major health problem in countries of the south Pacific region. Yaws, caused by Treponema pallidum subspecies pertenue and diagnosed by the presence of skin ulcers and a reactive syphilis serology, is one major cause, but this infection can be confused clinically with ulcers due to other causative agents. We investigated T pallidum pertenue and another bacterium known to cause skin infections in the Pacific islands Haemophilus ducreyi as causes of skin ulceration in a yaws-endemic region. Additionally, we identified specific signs and symptoms associated with these causative agents of cutaneous ulcers and compared these findings with laboratory-based diagnoses.

  • Mitjà O, Asiedu K, Mabey D. Yaws. The Lancet. 2013;381(9868):763--773. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Yaws is an infectious disease caused by Treponema pallidum pertenue?a bacterium that closely resembles the causative agent of syphilis?and is spread by skin-to-skin contact in humid tropical regions. Yaws causes disfiguring, and sometimes painful lesions of the skin and bones. As with syphilis, clinical manifestations can be divided into three stages; however, unlike syphilis, mother-to-child transmission does not occur. A major campaign to eradicate yaws in the 1950s and 1960s, by mass treatment of affected communities with longacting, injectable penicillin, reduced the number of cases by 95% worldwide, but yaws has reappeared in recent years in Africa, Asia, and the western Pacific. In 2012, one oral dose of azithromycin was shown to be as effective as intramuscular penicillin in the treatment of the disease, and WHO launched a new initiative to eradicate yaws by 2020.

  • Mitjà O, Hays R, Ipai A, Penias M, Paru R, Fagaho D, et al. Single-dose azithromycin versus benzathine benzylpenicillin for treatment of yaws in children in Papua New Guinea: an open-label, non-inferiority, randomised trial. The Lancet. 2012;379(9813):342--347. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Yaws is an endemic treponematosis and, as such, a neglected tropical disease?is re-emerging in children in rural, tropical areas. Oral azithromycin is effective for syphilis. We assessed the efficacy of azithromycin compared with intramuscular long-acting penicillin to treat patients with yaws.

On clinical solutions for SARS-CoV-2

  • Suñer C, Coma E, Ouchi D, Hermosilla E, Baro B, Rodríguez-Arias MÀ, et al. Association between two mass-gathering outdoor events and incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infections during the fifth wave of COVID-19 in north-east Spain: A population-based control-matched analysis. The Lancet Regional Health -- Europe. 2022 Apr;15. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Many countries have resumed mass-gathering events like music festivals, despite the risk of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spreading. In this study, we aimed to assess the effect of two mass-gathering outdoor events, held during a peak of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, on COVID-19 incidence.

  • Alemany A, Millat-Martinez P, Corbacho-Monné M, Malchair P, Ouchi D, Ruiz-Comellas A, et al. High-titre methylene blue-treated convalescent plasma as an early treatment for outpatients with COVID-19: a randomised, placebo-controlled trial. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. 2022. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Convalescent plasma has been proposed as an early treatment to interrupt the progression of early COVID-19 to severe disease, but there is little definitive evidence. We aimed to assess whether early treatment with convalescent plasma reduces the risk of hospitalisation and reduces SARS-CoV-2 viral load among outpatients with COVID-19.

  • Millat-Martinez P, Gharbharan A, Alemany A, Rokx C, Geurtsvankessel C, Papageourgiou G, et al. Prospective individual patient data meta-analysis of two randomized trials on convalescent plasma for COVID-19 outpatients. Nature Communications. 2022;13(1):2583. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Data on convalescent plasma (CP) treatment in COVID-19 outpatients are scarce. We aimed to assess whether CP administered during the first week of symptoms reduced the disease progression or risk of hospitalization of outpatients. Two multicenter, double-blind randomized trials (NCT04621123, NCT04589949) were merged with data pooling starting when <20% of recruitment target was achieved. A Bayesian-adaptive individual patient data meta-analysis was implemented. Outpatients aged ≥50 years and symptomatic for ≤7days were included. The intervention consisted of 200--300mL of CP with a predefined minimum level of antibodies. Primary endpoints were a 5-point disease severity scale and a composite of hospitalization or death by 28 days. Amongst the 797 patients included, 390 received CP and 392 placebo; they had a median age of 58 years, 1 comorbidity, 5 days symptoms and 93% had negative IgG antibody-test. Seventy-four patients were hospitalized, 6 required mechanical ventilation and 3 died. The odds ratio (OR) of CP for improved disease severity scale was 0.936 (credible interval (CI) 0.667--1.311); OR for hospitalization or death was 0.919 (CI 0.592--1.416). CP effect on hospital admission or death was largest in patients with ≤5 days of symptoms (OR 0.658, 95%CI 0.394--1.085). CP did not decrease the time to full symptom resolution.

  • Alemany A, Baró B, Ouchi D, Rodó P, Ubals M, Corbacho-Monné M, et al. Analytical and clinical performance of the panbio COVID-19 antigen-detecting rapid diagnostic test. Journal of Infection. 2021 May;82(5):186--230. [ DOI | ePrint ]

  • Suñer C, Ouchi D, Mas MÀ, Lopez Alarcon R, Massot Mesquida M, Prat N, et al. A retrospective cohort study of risk factors for mortality among nursing homes exposed to COVID-19 in Spain. Nature Aging. 2021;1(7):579--584. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Long-term care (LTC) facilities have shown remarkably high mortality rates during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in many countries1, and different risk factors for mortality have been identified in this setting2--5. Using facilities as the unit of analysis, we investigated multiple variables covering facility characteristics and socioeconomic characteristics of the geographic location to identify risk factors for excess mortality from a comprehensive perspective. Furthermore, we used a clustering approach to detect patterns in datasets and generate hypotheses regarding potential relationships between types of nursing homes and mortality trends. Our retrospective analysis included 167 nursing homes providing LTC to 8,716 residents during the COVID-19 outbreak in Catalonia (northeast Spain). According to multiple regression analysis, COVID-19-related and overall mortality at the facility level were significantly associated with a higher percentage of patients with complex diseases, lower scores on pandemic preparedness measures and higher population incidence of COVID-19 in the surrounding population. When grouping nursing homes into eight clusters based on common features, we found higher mortality rates in four clusters, mainly characterized by a higher proportion of residents with complex chronic conditions or advanced diseases, lower scores on pandemic preparedness, being located in rural areas and larger capacity, respectively.

  • Marks M, Millat-Martinez P, Ouchi D, Roberts Ch, Alemany A, Corbacho-Monné M, et al. Transmission of COVID-19 in 282 clusters in Catalonia, Spain: a cohort study. The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2021;21(5):629--636. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Scarce data are available on what variables affect the risk of transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the development of symptomatic COVID-19, and, particularly, the relationship with viral load. We aimed to analyse data from linked index cases of COVID-19 and their contacts to explore factors associated with transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

  • Alemany A, Millat-Martinez P, Ouchi D, Corbacho-Monné M, Bordoy AE, Esteban C, et al. Self-collected mid-nasal swabs and saliva specimens, compared with nasopharyngeal swabs, for SARS-CoV-2 detection in mild COVID-19 patients. Journal of Infection. 2021 Dec;83(6):709--737. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Self-collected nasal and saliva samples can be used for SARS-CoV-2 screening.?Self-collected nasal and saliva specimens had a 99% and 90% sensitivity, respectively.?Nasopharyngeal swab viral loads correlate better with nasal than saliva.?Viral load correlations are poorer at day 7, when lower viral loads are observed.

  • Baro B, Rodo P, Ouchi D, Bordoy AE, Saya Amaro EN, Salsench SV, et al. Performance characteristics of five antigen-detecting rapid diagnostic test (Ag-RDT) for SARS-CoV-2 asymptomatic infection: a head-to-head benchmark comparison. Journal of Infection. 2021. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Background Mass testing for early identification and isolation of infectious COVID-19 individuals is efficacious for reducing disease spread. Antigen-detecting rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDT) may be suitable for testing strategies; however, benchmark comparisons are scarce. Methods We used 286 nasopharyngeal specimens from unexposed asymptomatic individuals collected between December 2020 and January 2021 to assess five Ag-RDTs marketed by Abbott, Siemens, Roche Diagnostics, Lepu Medical, and Surescreen. Results For the overall sample, the performance parameters of Ag-RDTs were as follows: Abbott assay, sensitivity 38.6Conclusions When screening unexposed asymptomatic individuals, two Ag-RDTs achieved sensitivity ≥80% for specimens with Ct<30 and specificity ≥96%. The estimated negative predictive value suggests the suitability of Ag-RDTs for mass screenings of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the general population.

  • Mitjà O, Corbacho-Monné M, Ubals M, Alemany A, Suñer C, Tebé C, et al. A Cluster-Randomized Trial of Hydroxychloroquine for Prevention of Covid-19. New England Journal of Medicine. 2021;384(5):417--427. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    Current strategies for preventing severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection are limited to nonpharmacologic interventions. Hydroxychloroquine has been proposed as a postexposure therapy to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), but definitive evidence is lacking. (Funded by the crowdfunding campaign YoMeCorono and others; BCN-PEP-CoV2 number, NCT04304053.)

  • Mitjà O, Corbacho-Monné M, Ubals M, Tebé C, Peñafiel J, Tobias A, et al. Hydroxychloroquine for Early Treatment of Adults With Mild Coronavirus Disease 2019: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2020 07;73(11):e4073--e4081. [ DOI | ePrint ]

    No effective treatments for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) exist. We aimed to determine whether early treatment with hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) would be efficacious for outpatients with COVID-19.Multicenter open-label, randomized, controlled trial conducted in Catalonia, Spain, between 17 March and 26 May 2020. Patients recently diagnosed with
    <5-day of symptom onset were assigned to receive HCQ (800 mg on day 1 followed by 400 mg once daily for 6 days) or usual care. Outcomes were reduction of viral load in nasopharyngeal swabs up to 7 days after treatment start, disease progression up to 28 days, and time to complete resolution of symptoms. Adverse events were assessed up to 28 days.A total of 293 patients were eligible for intention-to-treat analysis: 157 in the control arm and 136 in the intervention arm. The mean age was 41.6 years (SD, 12.6), mean viral load at baseline was 7.90 log10 copies/mL (SD, 1.82), and median time from symptom onset to randomization was 3 days. No differences were found in the mean reduction of viral load at day 3 (−1.41 vs −1.41 log10 copies/mL in the control and intervention arm, respectively) or at day 7 (−3.37 vs −3.44). Treatment did not reduce risk of hospitalization (7.1
    % control vs 5.9
    % intervention) nor shorten the time to complete resolution of symptoms (12 days, control vs 10 days, intervention). No relevant adverse events were reported.In patients with mild COVID-19, no benefit was observed with HCQ beyond the usual care.