Researchers have developed a DNA test to quickly identify secondary infections in COVID-19 patients, who have double the risk of developing pneumonia while on ventilation than non-COVID-19 patients. Such patients are susceptible to ventilator-associated pneumonia. COVID-19 patients are thought to be at increased risk of infection for several reasons. Due to the amount of lung damage, these severe COVID-19 cases tend to spend more time on a ventilator than patients without COVID-19. The new test gives doctors the information they need to start treatment within hours rather than days, fine-tuning treatment as required, and reducing the inappropriate use of antibiotics.
This approach, based on higher throughput DNA testing. The test uses multiple polymerase chain reaction (PCR) which detects the DNA of the bacteria and can be done in around four hours, meaning there is no need to wait for the bacteria to grow. The test – which was developed with Dr. Martin Curran, a specialist in PCR diagnostics from Public Health England’s Cambridge laboratory – runs multiple PCR reactions in parallel, and can simultaneously pick up 52 different pathogens, which often infect the lungs of patients in intensive care. At the same time, it can also test for antibiotic resistance.
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