Severe asthma attacks doubled after Covid restrictions lifted

Adults with asthma faced an approximately doubled risk of a severe attack after Covid-19 restrictions were relaxed, a new study has revealed.

The study, published in the journal Thorax, found an increased risk of asthma attacks after the pandemic restrictions were lifted.

When restrictions were lifted, fewer people wore face coverings and there was more social mixing, and subsequently a higher risk of Covid-19 and other acute respiratory infections.

The research also found that Covid-19 was not significantly more likely to trigger asthma attacks than other respiratory infections.

“This shows that relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions coincided with an increased risk of severe asthma attacks,” said professor Adrian Martineau.

The findings do raise the possibility that certain elements of the public health measures introduced during the pandemic – such as wearing face masks – could help in reducing respiratory illnesses moving forward,” added Martineau, lead author of the research and Clinical Professor of Respiratory Infection and Immunity at Queen Mary University of London.

In April 2021, when social mixing restrictions and the need for face coverings started to be relaxed, 1.7 per cent of participants reported having a severe asthma attack in the previous month. In January 2022, this proportion more than doubled, going up to 3.7 per cent.

The study analysed data from 2,312 UK adults with asthma, participating in Queen Mary’s COVIDENCE UK study between November 2020 and April 2022.

Details on face covering use, social mixing, and asthma symptoms were collected via monthly online questionnaires.

“It is also reassuring to see that Covid-19 was not significantly more likely to trigger asthma attacks than other respiratory infections in our study participants,” said Dr Florence Tydeman, first author on the paper.

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