• Decline in COPD Admissions During the COVID-19 Pandemic Associated with Lower Burden of Community Respiratory Viral Infections

      So, Jennifer Y; O'Hara, Nathan N; Kenaa, Blaine; Williams, John G; deBorja, Christopher L; Slejko, Julia F; Zafari, Zafar; Sokolow, Michael; Zimand, Paul; Deming, Meagan; et al. (Elsevier Ltd., 2021-06-12)
      Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to widespread implementation of public health measures, such as stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and masking mandates. In addition to decreasing spread of SARS-CoV2, these measures also impact the transmission of seasonal viral pathogens, which are common triggers of COPD exacerbations. Whether reduced viral prevalence mediates reduction in COPD exacerbation rates is unknown. Methods: We performed retrospective analysis of data from a large, multicenter healthcare system to assess admission trends associated with community viral prevalence and with initiation of COVID-19 pandemic control measures. We applied difference-in-differences (DiD) analysis to compare season-matched weekly frequency of hospital admissions for COPD before and after implementation of public health measures for COVID-19. Community viral prevalence was estimated using regional Center for Disease Control and Prevention test positivity data and correlated to COPD admissions. Results: Data involving 4,422 COPD admissions demonstrated a season-matched 53% decline in COPD admissions during COVID-19 pandemic, which correlated to community viral burden (r=0.73; 95% CI: 0.67 to 0.78) and represented a 36% greater decline over admission frequencies observed in other medical conditions less affected by respiratory viral infections (IRR, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.57 to 0.71, p<0.001). The post-COVID-19 decline in COPD admissions was most pronounced in patients with fewer comorbidities and without recurrent admissions. Conclusion: The implementation of public health measures during the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with decreased COPD admissions. These changes are plausibly explained by reduced prevalence of seasonal respiratory viruses.