Pneumonia machine used for Coronavirus

A study which identifies the causes of a patient’s pneumonia is being temporarily refocused to help with earlier optimisation of treatment during the coronavirus pandemic. Named the INHALE trial, UEA is collaborating in the UCL-led study which aims to evaluate bacteria directly from pneumonia patients and guides doctors on treatment.

Pneumonia is among the main symptoms of coronavirus, and critically ill patients are put onto ventilators as they can no longer breathe for themselves. This ventilation can cause an infection called ‘secondary pneumonia’, due to increasing the risk of bacteria entering the lung. As opposed to a traditional lab test, the INHALE trial test can give a result in only an hour and can also detect whether there are any issues with antibiotic resistance.

The trial has been in effect over the past six months but has already been used for 50 patients at a number of hospitals since being repurposed. Prof David Livermore from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, the study’s co-chief Investigator, stated: “COVID-19 is a ‘black swan’ event, which came suddenly and changed everything. It disrupted INHALE’s original plan. But it has also created a vital medical need: to test if real-time information on secondary bacterial pneumonia improves treatment of the sickest, ventilated COVID-19 patients. And we’ve quickly refocused INHALE to do exactly that.”

Dr David Brealey, ICU Consultant at UCLH and Senior Lecturer at UCL Medicine, said: “Having the BioFire to help identify pneumonia has been invaluable in managing Covid-19 patients on the ICU at UCLH. These patients are so sick, we cannot wait days to get a result back from the lab, and this machine gives the result directly to the treating clinician within the hour. Real, actionable intelligence is making a difference to the way we treat our patients.”

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Matt Branston

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May 2022
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