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Asthma Exacerbations, ED Admissions Decreased During Lockdown

THURSDAY, April 15, 2021 -- The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns on asthma is explored in three studies published online March 29 in Thorax.

Syed A. Shah, D. Phil., from the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, and colleagues derived asthma exacerbation rates for every week and compared rates for January to August 2020 to a pre-COVID-19 period and January to August 2016 to 2019. Data were included for 100,165 patients with asthma who experienced at least one exacerbation during 2016 to 2020. The researchers found a significant reduction in the level of exacerbation rates across all patients when comparing the prelockdown to postlockdown periods (−0.196 episodes per person-year).

Gwyneth A. Davies, M.B., B.Ch., M.D., from the Swansea University Medical School in the United Kingdom, and colleagues compared weekly counts of emergency admissions and deaths due to asthma during the first 18 weeks in 2020 versus the national averages during 2015 to 2019 for Scotland and Wales, and they modeled the impact of instigating lockdown on these outcomes. The researchers found that lockdown correlated with a 36 percent pooled reduction in emergency admissions for asthma (incidence rate ratio, 0.64) across both countries. In a third study, Kyungmin Huh, from the Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea, and colleagues found that during the implementation of nonpharmaceutical interventions against COVID-19, the cumulative incidence of admissions for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma was 58 and 48 percent, respectively, of the mean incidence during the four preceding years.

"Since the early days of the COVID-19 epidemic, South Korea has thoroughly carried out social distancing, personal hygiene, and universal use of face masks," Huh and colleagues write. "In this study, the significant decrease in hospital admissions for influenza, pneumonia, COPD, and asthma suggests the unintended benefits of these measures."

Abstract/Full Text - Shah

Abstract/Full Text - Davies

Abstract/Full Text - Huh

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