Quality and methodology of clinical practice guidelines on antiviral pharmacotherapy for COVID-19 during the early phase of the pandemic
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INTRODUCTION: Despite availability of reliable guidelines development methods, the risk of producing less reliable documents may be higher when the guidelines are developed rapidly. OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to assess quality of guidelines on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), developed in the early stages of COVID-19 pandemic and assess if recommendations for pharmacotherapy were supported by evidence. METHODS: We performed the search for documents, that considered antiviral therapies and contained a recommendations for clinicians. The quality of the guidelines was assessed using the AGREE II-Global Rating Scale Instrument and series of additional criteria. RESULTS: The analysis included 40 publications. The median of quality of documents assessed with the AGREE II-GRS tool was 2.0 (interquartile range 1.5-2.5). Most documents did not fulfill the rigour of guideline development quality criteria. The AGREE II-GRS scores did not differ significantly across the type of the document, issuing institution and the mode of publication. 75% of documents provided recommendations for the use of antiviral medications despite apparent lack of sufficient evidence supporting such treatments. Of the included documents, 75% were not updated within the 2 months after the publication of the first randomized controlled trial on COVID-19 antiviral therapy. CONCLUSIONS: Most guidelines or guidance documents published during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic were of poor quality, contained recommendations for the use of antiviral therapy for SARS-CoV-2 infection despite only very low quality of evidence available, and were not updated on a regular basis.
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