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Significant reduction in asthma exacerbations following the COVID-19 lockdown

Published: April 29, 2022

In a newly published nationwide cohort study in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, Toennesen et al explore the effects of introducing national social distancing measures on asthma exacerbation rates in Denmark. Using data from nationwide health registers, the authors have analyzed data from 38,225 adult patients with asthma, who were registered with an asthma diagnosis in the National Danish Patient Register during 2014-2018. Weekly rates of asthma exacerbations from January 1, 2018 until the lockdown on March 20, 2020 were counted, and using this data in an interrupted time-series analysis, the researchers were able to statistically forecast expected exacerbation rates in the 10 weeks following the lockdown. In order to assess if exacerbation rates significantly were reduced after the lockdown, the forecasted exacerbation rates were than compared to the actual observed rates.

The analyses showed that Danish asthma patients experienced a significant reduction in exacerbation rates during the ten weeks following the national lockdown, including both exacerbations leading to hospital admission and exacerbations that could be resolved out of hospital. Thus, despite the fact that the opportunity for patients to see both general practitioners and pulmonary specialists was very limited during this period, there was a decrease in the number of exacerbations, which the authors suggest is most likely due to the reduction in community spreading of respiratory viruses as a consequence of the restrictions.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.

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