HIV and COVID-19
Taking advantage of the infrastructure provided by the EDCTP-funded TREATS project, the TREATS-COVID project is gaining a deeper understanding of the spread of COVID-19 in an urban population of Zambia. The TREATS project is working closely with a community of around 28,000 that has been involved in research studies for many years.
All households will be visited, and people aged 15 years and above will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19. Cases and their household contacts will be followed up. A second study will test 4000 people for past infection, as well as for HIV and TB infection.
The project will evaluate a range of potential community-based point-of-care tests to detect SARS-CoV-2 and antibodies to the virus. These will include a novel computer-aided diagnostic tool for interpretation of chest X-rays that has been developed by one of the project partners, initially for TB but since adapted for COVID-19.
The HALT-COVID project aims to determine the impact of HIV and TB infections on COVID-19 symptoms, outcomes and transmission, and how COVID-19 affects morbidity and mortality in populations badly affected by HIV and TB.
The project is based on two study populations, in rural and urban areas, that are already participating in a surveillance project. Through the use of existing mobile clinics, 5,000 people with COVID-19-like symptoms will be offered molecular testing. In addition, healthcare workers at two research institutes will be offered routine weekly screening.
An important aspect of the project is to evaluate molecular and antibody-based tests in the South African setting. Focusing on the most practical tests, the project will assess their performance against gold standard comparators.
The TraCE project aims to follow 120 people with confirmed COVID-19, as well as their household contacts, in a resource-limited, densely populated community in Cape Town, South Africa. The project uses well-established mobile screening units, which were set up to provide HIV counselling and testing services. These, along with public sector clinics, will be used to identify cases.
A total of 120 households will be recruited and followed for one month, with half receiving an intensive infection mitigation intervention administered by lay health workers and the other half being given standard advice on infection prevention. The intervention includes guidance on infection control, basic supplies (such as masks and hand sanitiser), and regular telephone calls and text messages.
The periCOVID-Africa project aims to generate key data on COVID-19 in pregnant women and newborn babies, taking advantage of two established cohorts in sub-Saharan Africa. The first cohort set up through the EDCTP-funded PREPARE project covers 70,000 pregnant women and their infants in Kampala, Uganda.
The PREPARE project is following up women from the early stages of pregnancy and infants up to the age of three months to gain a clearer picture of the burden of group B streptococcus infections.
The second cohort is drawn from a multicentre study of 10,000 pregnant women in The Gambia, Kenya and Mozambique organised by the PRECISE Network, with support from UK Research and Innovation and Wellcome Trust. This project is exploring the social, clinical and biological factors associated with a range of placental disorders, such as low birth weight and stillbirth.
Subsets of participants in these studies will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and invited to join the periCOVID-Africa project if they test positive. The project will provide a picture of COVID-19 infections in pregnant women in five different settings across sub-Saharan Africa, helping to establish the maternal, foetal and neonatal burden of disease in representative sub-Saharan Africa populations.
All projects have been funded under EDCTP’s 2020 COVID-19 Emergency call for proposals. Details on the coordinators and funding can be found on the EDCTP website page Mobilisation of funding for COVID-19 research in sub-Saharan Africa.