Evidence Check

A rapid review outlining the available evidence on a discrete topic or question relating to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Evidence includes grey and peer review literature. View all Evidence Checks by date of publication.

Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant

Added: 10 Dec 2021
Updated: 24 Dec 2021

What is the evidence for the variant of concern Omicron (B.1.1.529) in terms of transmissibility, disease severity, COVID-19 treatments and vaccines?
  • Omicron (B.1.1.529) was designated a variant of concern by the World Health Organization on 26 November 2021.
  • It was first reported to WHO from South Africa on 24 November 2021.
  • It has 50 mutations, including 26-32 mutations on its spike protein.

COVID-19 vaccines in Australia

Added: 19 Aug 2021
Updated: 17 Dec 2021

What is the evidence on COVID-19 vaccines in Australia?
  • Internationally, 28 vaccines are approved and 8.55 billion doses have been administered.
  • All vaccines that are approved for use have strong safety profiles and benefit to risk ratios.
  • In Australia, three vaccines have been approved for use. To 12 December 2021, approximately 25.3 million doses of Comirnaty (Pfizer), 13.6 million doses of Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) and 1.3 million doses of Spikevax (Moderna) vaccines have been administered.

Face masks and COVID-19 transmission in the community

Added: 29 Oct 2021
Updated: 16 Dec 2021

What is the evidence for the effectiveness of face masks in community settings for reducing influenza-like illnesses, including COVID-19?
  • Most systematic reviews report benefits in terms of reduction in incidence, hospitalisation and/or mortality.
  • The efficacy of protection against respiratory viral infections may vary according to the type of mask used.
  • Face masks are often recommended alongside other protective measures including hand hygiene and physical distancing.

Monoclonal antibodies

Added: 13 Dec 2021

What is the evidence for the use of monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19?
  • Monoclonal antibodies that target surface viral proteins may be used for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has provisionally approved certain monoclonal antibody treatments and the Australian National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce has published living guidance for use.
  • A Cochrane review concluded there was insufficient evidence regarding the effectiveness of treatment with monoclonal antibodies including reduced mortality, improved symptoms, admissions to hospital, and serious or unwanted effects.
  • Other systematic reviews have reported mixed evidence for reduced mortality, reduced hospitalisations or ICU admissions, progression to ventilation or severe disease, and risk of poor clinical outcomes or adverse events.

Renal dialysis and COVID-19 vaccination

Added: 13 Dec 2021

What is the evidence for the use of SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations in renal dialysis patients?
  • Generally, studies have shown SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations are safe and effective in renal dialysis patients, with a substantial humoral response for most patients after two vaccine doses.
  • However, the humoral response rate may be lower in renal dialysis patients compared to the general population. This may justify changes to the vaccination schedule for these patients.
  • SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are not contraindicated in kidney disease patients and Kidney Health Australia recommends vaccination for people with kidney disease, including patients on dialysis.

Paediatric respiratory infections

Added: 6 Dec 2021

What is the evidence for paediatric respiratory infections after lockdown and school reopening during COVID-19?
  • Countries in both southern and northern hemispheres reported no immediate impact on the incidence of respiratory pathogens following reopening of schools and day care centres. However, some countries such as the U and China reported eran increase in intseasonal RSV activity.
  • There is a concern that due to the reduced circulation of RSV during the winter months of 2020/21, older infants and toddlers might now be at increased risk of severe RSV-associated illness since they may not have had typical levels of exposure to RSV during the past 15 months.
  • In several jurisdictions, the routine use of influenza vaccines and antiviral medications in the prevention and treatment of respiratory infections in children are recommended.

Post-acute sequelae of COVID-19

Added: 6 Dec 2021

What is the evidence on the post-acute sequelae of COVID-19?
  • The global estimated pooled PASC prevalence ranges from 43% to 63%, with a higher pooled PASC prevalence estimate among those hospitalised during the acute phase of infection.
  • Risk factors for the development of PASC may include those who had symptomatic COVID-19 infection, hospitalisation, and severity of illness. Other potential risk factors include old age, female sex, a high number of comorbidities and moderate and severe obesity.
  • Whilst some symptoms are specific to different points in time following acute illness (table one), fatigue, dyspnoea and smell or taste impairment are consistently reported for twelve months.


Added: 6 Dec 2021

What is the evidence for sotrovimab as a treatment for COVID-19?
  • Sotrovimab (XEVUDY), is a monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19.
  • Sotrovimab is provisionally approved and included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG).
  • Interim data from a phase 3 trial (COMET-ICE) show the risk of disease progression was reduced by 85%.

Daily Evidence Digest

Rapid evidence checks are based on a simplified review method and may not be entirely exhaustive, but aim to provide a balanced assessment of what is already known about a specific problem or issue. This brief has not been peer-reviewed and should not be a substitute for individual clinical judgement, nor is it an endorsed position of NSW Health. Evidence checks are archived a year after the date of publication.

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