HIQA publishes four evidence summaries to support national response to COVID-19

Date of publication:

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has published four summaries of academic research and evidence to support the National Public Health Emergency Team’s (NPHET’s) response to COVID-19.

The summaries published today investigate the international evidence on immunity and the spread of the virus by children.

HIQA’s Deputy CEO and Director of Health Technology Assessment, Dr Máirín Ryan, said: “While the evidence is limited, it appears that children are not substantially contributing to the spread of COVID-19 in their household or in schools. One study suggests that while there is high transmission of COVID-19 among adults aged 25 years or older, transmission is lower in younger people particularly in those under 14 years of age.”

 “An Australian study that examined potential spread from 18 confirmed (nine students and nine staff) cases to over 800 close contacts in 15 different schools found that no teacher or staff member contracted COVID-19 from any of the initial school cases. One child from a primary school and one child from a high school may have contracted COVID-19 from the initial cases at their schools.”

HIQA also found that there remains a lack of clear evidence as to whether long-term immunity is possible from SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).

Dr Ryan continued: “Studies have shown that antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 develop soon after infection. Immunoglobulin G antibodies (that contribute to long-term immunity) have been detected for at least two months after infection. However, as SARS-CoV-2 is a new virus, there is no long term evidence of immunity. Continued monitoring is needed to assess the adequacy and duration of the immune response for COVID-19. Evidence for other types of serious coronavirus infections, such as SARS-CoV-1, shows that the antibody response is maintained for one-to-two years after initial infection and decreases thereafter. As yet, it is also not certain if antibodies are transferred from mother to the child in the womb via the placenta.”

 “It is not yet possible to determine if reinfection is possible following recovery from COVID-19. While some individuals have tested positive after recovery, this is likely due to virus re-detection where there is intermittent shedding of the virus rather than reinfection with a second virus. To date, there is no evidence that these individuals are infectious to others.”

The evidence summaries were developed by HIQA following requests from NPHET’s Clinical Expert Advisory Group and are informing the national response to the pandemic.

Dr Ryan continued: “HIQA develops evidence summaries following a thorough search of bibliographic databases, screening of identified studies to match relevant clinical questions, data extraction and quality appraisal of included studies. This robust process ensures that public health decisions are informed by the best available evidence and information from across the world.”

Read the evidence summaries at https://bit.ly/2R4eL6f.

Ends.

Further information:
Marty Whelan, Head of Communications & Stakeholder Engagement
085 8055202, mwhelan@hiqa.ie

Notes to Editor:

  • The four evidence summaries published today answer the following research questions:
    • What evidence is available to indicate that children spread COVID-19?
    • Are individuals reinfected with SARS-CoV-2 or other human coronaviruses infectious?
    • Is there evidence for placental transfer of antibodies, from infected mothers, that confers immunity in the newborn?
    • What is the rate of reinfection/duration of immunity in individuals who recover from a laboratory-confirmed coronavirus infection?
  • HIQA continues to support the national public health response to COVID-19 through:
    • conducting rapid HTAs, rapid reviews and evidence summaries to inform decisions by NPHET and NPHET subgroups, including its clinical Expert Advisory Group; and to inform public health measures and public health guidance to protect the public from COVID-19,
    • assessing nursing homes as part of a quality assurance programme,
    • providing guidance and support to designated centres,
    • risk assessing nursing homes and designated centres for people with a disability,
    • evaluating risk in public acute hospitals,
    • establishing an Infection Prevention and Control Hub to provide advice and assistance to social care services,
    • carrying out contact tracing,
    • prioritising the registration of additional beds in the social care system.
  • HIQA’s Deputy CEO and Director of Health Technology Assessment, Dr Máirín Ryan, is chair of the NPHET subgroup on Guidance and Evidence Synthesis.