Asthma Exacerbations Up After Relaxation of COVID-19 Restrictions

Relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions was associated with an increase in the incidence of COVID-19, non-COVID-19 acute respiratory infections (ARIs), and severe asthma exacerbations, according to a study published online Nov. 23 in Thorax.

Florence Tydeman, from the Queen Mary University of London, and colleagues conducted a population-based longitudinal study in 2,312 U.K. adults with asthma between November 2020 and April 2022 to describe temporal trends in social mixing, incident ARIs, and asthma exacerbations following relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions.

The researchers found that the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions from April 2021 coincided with reduced use of face covering, increased frequency of indoor visits to public places and other households, and increasing incidence of COVID-19, non-COVID-19 ARIs, and severe asthma exacerbations. An independent association was seen for incident non-COVID-19 ARIs with an increased risk for asthma exacerbation (adjusted odds ratio, 5.75); a similar association was seen for incident COVID-19, both prior to emergence of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) omicron variant and subsequently (adjusted odds ratios, 5.89 and 5.69, respectively).

“In conclusion, this large prospective population-based study shows for the first time that relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions in the U.K. coincided with increased risk of COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 ARI, which in turn associated independently with increased risk of severe asthma exacerbations,” the authors write.

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