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1.
J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr ; 87(1): 644-651, 2021 05 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1865024

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The coronavirus pandemic has necessitated a range of population-based measures to stem the spread of infection. These measures may be associated with disruptions to other health services including for gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) at risk for or living with HIV. Here, we assess the relationship between stringency of COVID-19 control measures and interruptions to HIV prevention and treatment services for MSM. SETTING: Data for this study were collected between April 16, 2020, and May 24, 2020, as part of a COVID-19 Disparities Survey implemented by the gay social networking app, Hornet. Pandemic control measures were quantified using the Oxford Government Response Tracker Stringency Index: each country received a score (0-100) based on the number and strictness of 9 indicators related to restrictions, closures, and travel bans. METHODS: We used a multilevel mixed-effects generalized linear model with Poisson distribution to assess the association between stringency of pandemic control measures and access to HIV services. RESULTS: A total of 10,654 MSM across 20 countries were included. Thirty-eight percent (3992/10,396) reported perceived interruptions to in-person testing, 55% (5178/9335) interruptions to HIV self-testing, 56% (5171/9173) interruptions to pre-exposure prophylaxis, and 10% (990/9542) interruptions to condom access. For every 10-point increase in stringency, there was a 3% reduction in the prevalence of perceived access to in-person testing (aPR: 0·97, 95% CI: [0·96 to 0·98]), a 6% reduction in access to self-testing (aPR: 0·94, 95% CI: [0·93 to 0·95]), and a 5% reduction in access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (aPR: 0·95, 95% CI: [0·95 to 0·97]). Among those living with HIV, 20% (218/1105) were unable to access their provider; 65% (820/1254) reported being unable to refill their treatment prescription remotely. CONCLUSIONS: More stringent responses were associated with decreased perceived access to services. These results support the need for increasing emphasis on innovative strategies in HIV-related diagnostic, prevention, and treatment services to minimize service interruptions during this and potential future waves of COVID-19 for gay men and other MSM at risk for HIV acquisition and transmission.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , HIV Infections/drug therapy , HIV Infections/prevention & control , Homosexuality, Male/statistics & numerical data , Sexual and Gender Minorities/statistics & numerical data , Adult , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis/statistics & numerical data , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Self-Testing , Sexual Behavior , Social Networking , Surveys and Questionnaires , Young Adult
2.
BMJ Glob Health ; 7(5)2022 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1865162

ABSTRACT

Vaccination policies have shifted dramatically during COVID-19 with the rapid emergence of population-wide vaccine mandates, domestic vaccine passports and differential restrictions based on vaccination status. While these policies have prompted ethical, scientific, practical, legal and political debate, there has been limited evaluation of their potential unintended consequences. Here, we outline a comprehensive set of hypotheses for why these policies may ultimately be counterproductive and harmful. Our framework considers four domains: (1) behavioural psychology, (2) politics and law, (3) socioeconomics, and (4) the integrity of science and public health. While current vaccines appear to have had a significant impact on decreasing COVID-19-related morbidity and mortality burdens, we argue that current mandatory vaccine policies are scientifically questionable and are likely to cause more societal harm than good. Restricting people's access to work, education, public transport and social life based on COVID-19 vaccination status impinges on human rights, promotes stigma and social polarisation, and adversely affects health and well-being. Current policies may lead to a widening of health and economic inequalities, detrimental long-term impacts on trust in government and scientific institutions, and reduce the uptake of future public health measures, including COVID-19 vaccines as well as routine immunisations. Mandating vaccination is one of the most powerful interventions in public health and should be used sparingly and carefully to uphold ethical norms and trust in institutions. We argue that current COVID-19 vaccine policies should be re-evaluated in light of the negative consequences that we outline. Leveraging empowering strategies based on trust and public consultation, and improving healthcare services and infrastructure, represent a more sustainable approach to optimising COVID-19 vaccination programmes and, more broadly, the health and well-being of the public.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines , COVID-19 , Health Policy , Vaccination , COVID-19/prevention & control , Humans , Vaccination/legislation & jurisprudence
3.
Influenza Other Respir Viruses ; 2022 May 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1861366

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Shared and divergent predictors of clinical severity across respiratory viruses may support clinical and community responses in the context of a novel respiratory pathogen. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective cohort study to identify predictors of 30-day all-cause mortality following hospitalization with influenza (N = 45,749; 2010-09 to 2019-05), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV; N = 24 345; 2010-09 to 2019-04), or severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2; N = 8988; 2020-03 to 2020-12; pre-vaccine) using population-based health administrative data from Ontario, Canada. Multivariable modified Poisson regression was used to assess associations between potential predictors and mortality. We compared the direction, magnitude, and confidence intervals of risk ratios to identify shared and divergent predictors of mortality. RESULTS: A total of 3186 (7.0%), 697 (2.9%), and 1880 (20.9%) patients died within 30 days of hospital admission with influenza, RSV, and SARS-CoV-2, respectively. Shared predictors of increased mortality included older age, male sex, residence in a long-term care home, and chronic kidney disease. Positive associations between age and mortality were largest for patients with SARS-CoV-2. Few comorbidities were associated with mortality among patients with SARS-CoV-2 as compared with those with influenza or RSV. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings may help identify patients at greatest risk of illness secondary to a respiratory virus, anticipate hospital resource needs, and prioritize local prevention and therapeutic strategies to communities with higher prevalence of risk factors.

4.
PLoS Med ; 19(3): e1003940, 2022 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1833506

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Optimizing services to facilitate engagement and retention in care of people living with HIV (PLWH) on antiretroviral therapies (ARTs) is critical to decrease HIV-related morbidity and mortality and HIV transmission. We systematically reviewed the literature for the effectiveness of implementation strategies to reestablish and subsequently retain clinical contact, improve viral load suppression, and reduce mortality among patients who had been lost to follow-up (LTFU) from HIV services. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We searched 7 databases (PubMed, Cochrane, ERIC, PsycINFO, EMBASE, Web of Science, and the WHO regional databases) and 3 conference abstract archives (CROI, IAC, and IAS) to find randomized trials and observational studies published through 13 April 2020. Eligible studies included those involving children and adults who were diagnosed with HIV, had initiated ART, and were subsequently lost to care and that reported at least one review outcome (return to care, retention, viral suppression, or mortality). Data were extracted by 2 reviewers, with discrepancies resolved by a third. We characterized reengagement strategies according to how, where, and by whom tracing was conducted. We explored effects, first, among all categorized as LTFU from the HIV program (reengagement program effect) and second among those found to be alive and out of care (reengagement contact outcome). We used random-effect models for meta-analysis and conducted subgroup analyses to explore heterogeneity. Searches yielded 4,244 titles, resulting in 37 included studies (6 randomized trials and 31 observational studies). In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) (N = 16), tracing most frequently involved identification of LTFU from the electronic medical record (EMR) and paper records followed by a combination of telephone calls and field tracing (including home visits), by a team of outreach workers within 3 months of becoming LTFU (N = 7), with few incorporating additional strategies to support reengagement beyond contact (N = 2). In high-income countries (HICs) (N = 21 studies), LTFU were similarly identified through EMR systems, at times matched with other public health records (N = 4), followed by telephone calls and letters sent by mail or email and conducted by outreach specialist teams. Home visits were less common (N = 7) than in LMICs, and additional reengagement support was similarly infrequent (N = 5). Overall, reengagement programs were able to return 39% (95% CI: 31% to 47%) of all patients who were characterized as LTFU (n = 29). Reengagement contact resulted in 58% (95% CI: 51% to 65%) return among those found to be alive and out of care (N = 17). In 9 studies that had a control condition, the return was higher among those in the reengagement intervention group than the standard of care group (RR: 1.20 (95% CI: 1.08 to 1.32, P < 0.001). There were insufficient data to generate pooled estimates of retention, viral suppression, or mortality after the return. CONCLUSIONS: While the types of interventions are markedly heterogeneity, reengagement interventions increase return to care. HIV programs should consider investing in systems to better characterize LTFU to identify those who are alive and out of care, and further research on the optimum time to initiate reengagement efforts after missed visits and how to best support sustained reengagement could improve efficiency and effectiveness.


Subject(s)
HIV Infections , Lost to Follow-Up , Adult , Child , HIV Infections/drug therapy , Humans , Income , Viral Load , World Health Organization
5.
PLoS Med ; 19(3): e1003959, 2022 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1793650

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Global HIV treatment programs have sought to lengthen the interval between clinical encounters for people living with HIV (PLWH) who are established on antiretroviral treatment (ART) to reduce the burden of seeking care and to decongest health facilities. The overall effect of reduced visit frequency on HIV treatment outcomes is however unknown. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the effect of implementation strategies that reduce the frequency of clinical appointments and ART refills for PLWH established on ART. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We searched databases​ between 1 January 2010 and 9 November 2021 to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and observational studies that compared reduced (6- to 12-monthly) clinical consultation or ART refill appointment frequency to 3- to 6-monthly appointments for patients established on ART. We assessed methodological quality and real-world relevance, and used Mantel-Haenszel methods to generate pooled risk ratios (RRs) with 95% confidence intervals for retention, viral suppression, and mortality. We evaluated heterogeneity quantitatively and qualitatively, and overall evidence certainty using GRADE. Searches yielded 3,955 records, resulting in 10 studies (6 RCTs, 3 observational studies, and 1 study contributing observational and RCT data) representing 15 intervention arms with 33,599 adults (≥16 years) in 8 sub-Saharan African countries. Reduced frequency clinical consultations occurred at health facilities, while reduced frequency ART refills were delivered through facility or community pharmacies and adherence groups. Studies were highly pragmatic, except for some study settings and resources used in RCTs. Among studies comparing reduced clinical consultation frequency (6- or 12-monthly) to 3-monthly consultations, there appeared to be no difference in retention (RR 1.01, 95% CI 0.97-1.04, p = 0.682, 8 studies, low certainty), and this finding was consistent across 6- and 12-monthly consultation intervals and delivery strategies. Viral suppression effect estimates were markedly influenced by under-ascertainment of viral load outcomes in intervention arms, resulting in inconclusive evidence. There was similarly insufficient evidence to draw conclusions on mortality (RR 1.12, 95% CI 0.75-1.66, p = 0.592, 6 studies, very low certainty). For ART refill frequency, there appeared to be little to no difference in retention (RR 1.01, 95% CI 0.98-1.06, p = 0.473, 4 RCTs, moderate certainty) or mortality (RR 1.45, 95% CI 0.63-3.35, p = 0.382, 4 RCTs, low certainty) between 6-monthly and 3-monthly visits. Similar to the analysis for clinical consultations, although viral suppression appeared to be better in 3-monthly arms, effect estimates were markedly influence by under-ascertainment of viral load outcomes in intervention arms, resulting in overall inclusive evidence. This systematic review was limited by the small number of studies available to compare 12- versus 6-monthly clinical consultations, insufficient data to compare implementation strategies, and lack of evidence for children, key populations, and low- and middle-income countries outside of sub-Saharan Africa. CONCLUSIONS: Based on this synthesis, extending clinical consultation intervals to 6 or 12 months and ART dispensing intervals to 6 months appears to result in similar retention to 3-month intervals, with less robust conclusions for viral suppression and mortality. Future research should ensure complete viral load outcome ascertainment, as well as explore mechanisms of effect, outcomes in other populations, and optimum delivery and monitoring strategies to ensure widespread applicability of reduced frequency visits across settings.


Subject(s)
Anti-Retroviral Agents , HIV Infections , Adult , Anti-Retroviral Agents/therapeutic use , Child , HIV Infections/drug therapy , Humans , Time Factors , Treatment Outcome , Viral Load
6.
BMJ Open ; 12(4): e041896, 2022 04 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1788957

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: Emerging evidence indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic, and the responses it has generated, have had disproportionate impacts on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) communities. This study seeks to build on existing information and provide regional insight. METHODS: In response, a cross-sectional survey was administered to a global sample of LGBTQ+ individuals (n=13 358) between 16 April and 20 May 2020 via the social networking application Hornet. The survey contained questions that characterise the impact of COVID-19 and associated mitigation strategies on economics, employment, mental health and access to healthcare. RESULTS: 5191 (43.9%) individuals indicated they were somewhat, slightly or unable to meet basic needs with their current income, while 2827 (24.1%) and 4710 (40.1%) felt physically or emotionally unsafe in their living environment, respectively. 2202 individuals (24.7%) stated they are at risk for losing health insurance coverage. 2685 (22.7%) persons reported having skipped or cut meals as there was not enough money. CONCLUSION: Many LGBTQ+persons who responded reported adverse consequences to mental health, economics, interruptions to care and lack of support from their government. This data is part of ongoing analyses but accentuates the unique needs of LGBTQ+ communities that will require targeted, ameliorative approaches.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Sexual and Gender Minorities , Transgender Persons , COVID-19/epidemiology , Cross-Sectional Studies , Female , Humans , Pandemics
7.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-332273

ABSTRACT

ABSTRACT Background Identification of shared and divergent predictors of clinical severity across respiratory viruses may support clinical decision-making and resource planning in the context of a novel or re-emergent respiratory pathogen. Methods We conducted a retrospective cohort study to identify predictors of 30-day all-cause mortality following hospitalization with influenza (N=45,749;2011-09 to 2019-05), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV;N=24,345;2011-09 to 2019-04), or SARS-CoV-2 (N=8,988;2020-03 to 2020-12;pre-vaccine) using population-based health administrative data from Ontario, Canada. Multivariable modified Poisson regression was used to assess associations between potential predictors and mortality. We compared the direction, magnitude and confidence intervals of risk ratios to identify shared and divergent predictors of mortality. Results 3,186 (7.0%), 697 (2.9%) and 1,880 (20.9%) patients died within 30 days of hospital admission with influenza, RSV, and SARS-CoV-2, respectively. Common predictors of increased mortality included: older age, male sex, residence in a long-term care home, and chronic kidney disease. Positive associations between age and mortality were largest for patients with SARS-CoV-2. Few comorbidities were associated with mortality among patients with SARS-CoV-2 as compared to those with influenza or RSV. Conclusions Our findings may help identify patients at highest risk of illness secondary to a respiratory virus, anticipate hospital resource needs, and prioritize local preventions and therapeutics to communities with high prevalence of risk factors. Summary In this study of patients hospitalized with influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, and SARS-CoV-2, common predictors of mortality included: older age, male sex, residence in long-term care homes and chronic kidney disease. These predictors may support clinical- and systems-level decision making.

8.
Ann Epidemiol ; 2022 Mar 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1757110

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE: People experiencing homelessness (PEH) are at increased risk of respiratory infections and associated morbidity and mortality. To characterize optimal intervention strategies, we completed a systematic review of mitigation strategies for PEH to minimize the spread and impact of respiratory infectious disease outbreaks, including COVID-19. METHODS: The study protocol was registered in PROSPERO (#2020 CRD42020208964) and was consistent with the preferred reporting in systematic reviews and meta-analyses guidelines. A search algorithm containing keywords that were synonymous to the terms "Homeless" and "Respiratory Illness" was applied to the six databases. The search concluded on September 22, 2020. Quality assessment was performed at the study level. Steps were conducted by two independent team members. RESULTS: A total of 4468 unique titles were retrieved with 21 meeting criteria for inclusion. Interventions included testing, tracking, screening, infection prevention and control, isolation support, and education. Historically, there has been limited study of intervention strategies specifically for PEH across the world. CONCLUSIONS: Staff and organizations providing services for people experiencing homelessness face specific challenges in adhering to public health guidelines such as physical distancing, isolation, and routine hygiene practices. There is a discrepancy between the burden of infectious diseases among PEH and specific research characterizing optimal intervention strategies to mitigate transmission in the context of shelters. Improving health for people experiencing homelessness necessitates investment in programs scaling existing interventions and research to study new approaches.

9.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-330356

ABSTRACT

Importance: Social determinants of health (SDOH) play an important role in COVID-19 outcomes. More research is needed to quantify this relationship and understand the underlying mechanisms. Objectives: To examine differential patterns in COVID-19-related mortality by area-level SDOH accounting for confounders;and to compare these patterns to those for non-COVID-19 mortality, and COVID-19 case fatality (COVID-19-related death among those diagnosed). Design, setting, and participants: Population-based retrospective cohort study including all community living individuals aged 20 years or older residing in Ontario, Canada, as of March 1, 2020 who were followed through to March 2, 2021. Exposure: SDOH variables derived from the 2016 Canada Census at the dissemination area-level including: median household income;educational attainment;proportion of essential workers, racialized groups, recent immigrants, apartment buildings, and high-density housing;and average household size. Main outcomes and measures: COVID-19-related death was defined as death within 30 days following, or 7 days prior to a positive SARS-CoV-2 test. Cause-specific hazard models were employed to examine the associations between SDOH and COVID-19-related mortality, treating non-COVID-19 mortality as a competing risk. Results: Of 11,810,255 individuals included, 3,880 (0.03%) died related to COVID-19 and 88,107 (0.75%) died without a positive test. After accounting for demographics, baseline health, and other SDOH, the following SDOH were associated with increased hazard of COVID-19-related death (hazard ratios [95% confidence intervals]) comparing the most to least vulnerable group): lower income (1.30[1.09-1.54]), lower educational attainment (1.27[1.10-1.47]), higher proportion essential workers (1.28[1.10-1.50]), higher proportion racialized groups (1.42[1.16-1.73]), higher proportion apartment buildings (1.25[1.11-1.41]), and larger vs. medium household size (1.30[1.13-1.48]). In comparison, areas with higher proportion racialized groups were associated with a lower hazard of non-COVID-19 mortality (0.88[0.85-0.92]). With the exception of income, SDOH were not independently associated with COVID-19 case fatality. Conclusions and relevance: Area-level social and structural inequalities determine COVID-19-related mortality after accounting for individual demographic and clinical factors. COVID-19 has reversed the pattern of lower non-COVID-19 mortality by racialized groups. Pandemic responses should include prioritized and community-tailored intervention strategies to address SDOH that mechanistically underpin disproportionate acquisition and transmission risks and shape barriers to the reach of, and access to prevention interventions.

10.
PLoS One ; 17(3): e0265434, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1742024

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Despite the established efficacy of PrEP to prevent HIV and the advantages of a user-controlled method, PrEP uptake and persistence by women in both trials and demonstration projects has been suboptimal. We utilized real-world data from an HIV service provider to describe persistence on oral PrEP among female sex workers (FSW) in eThekwini, South Africa. METHODS: We examined time from PrEP initiation to discontinuation among all FSW initiating PrEP at TB HIV Care in eThekwini between 2016-2020. We used a discrete time-to-event data setup and stacked cumulative incidence function plots, displaying the competing risks of 1) not returning for PrEP, 2) client discontinuation, and 3) provider discontinuation. We calculated hazard ratios using complementary log-log regression and sub-hazard ratios using competing risks regression. RESULTS: The number of initiations increased each year from 155 (9.3%, n = 155/1659) in 2016 to 1224 (27.5%, n = 1224/4446) in 2020. Persistence 1-month after initiation was 53% (95% CI: 51%-55%). Younger women were more likely to discontinue PrEP by not returning compared with those 25 years and older. Risk of discontinuation through non-return declined for those initiating in later years. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a greater number of initiations and sustained persistence were observed in 2020. CONCLUSIONS: Low levels of PrEP persistence were observed, consistent with data among underserved women elsewhere. Encouragingly, the proportion of women persisting increased over time, even as the number of women newly initiating PrEP and staff workload increased. Further research is needed to understand which implementation strategies the program may have enacted to facilitate these improvements and what further changes may be necessary.


Subject(s)
Anti-HIV Agents/therapeutic use , HIV Infections/prevention & control , Medication Adherence/statistics & numerical data , Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis/statistics & numerical data , Sex Workers/statistics & numerical data , Administration, Oral , Adult , Anti-HIV Agents/administration & dosage , Female , Humans , Medication Adherence/psychology , Sex Workers/psychology , South Africa/epidemiology , Young Adult
11.
Int J Infect Dis ; 118: 73-82, 2022 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1700024

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Many studies have examined the effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) on SARS-CoV-2 transmission worldwide. However, less attention has been devoted to understanding the limits of NPIs across the course of the pandemic and along a continuum of their stringency. In this study, we explore the relationship between the growth of SARS-CoV-2 cases and an NPI stringency index across Canada before the accelerated vaccine roll-out. METHODS: We conducted an ecological time-series study of daily SARS-CoV-2 case growth in Canada from February 2020 to February 2021. Our outcome was a back-projected version of the daily growth ratio in a stringency period (i.e., a 10-point range of the stringency index) relative to the last day of the previous period. We examined the trends in case growth using a linear mixed-effects model accounting for stringency period, province, and mobility in public domains. RESULTS: Case growth declined rapidly by 20-60% and plateaued within the first month of the first wave, irrespective of the starting values of the stringency index. When stringency periods increased, changes in case growth were not immediate and were faster in the first wave than in the second. In the first wave, the largest decreasing trends from our mixed effects model occurred in both early and late stringency periods, depending on the province, at a geometric mean index value of 30⋅1 out of 100. When compared with the first wave, the stringency periods in the second wave possessed little association with case growth. CONCLUSIONS: The minimal association in the first wave, and the lack thereof in the second, is compatible with the hypothesis that NPIs do not, per se, lead to a decline in case growth. Instead, the correlations we observed might be better explained by a combination of underlying behaviors of the populations in each province and the natural dynamics of SARS-CoV-2. Although there exist alternative explanations for the equivocal relationship between NPIs and case growth, the onus of providing evidence shifts to demonstrating how NPIs can consistently have flat association, despite incrementally high stringency.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Vaccines , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Canada/epidemiology , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2
12.
EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-320725

ABSTRACT

There is an urgent need to measure the impacts of COVID-19 among gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM). We conducted a cross-sectional survey with a global sample of gay men and other MSM (n= 2732) from April 16, 2020 to May 4, 2020, through a social networking app. We characterized the economic, mental health, HIV prevention and HIV treatment impacts of COVID-19 and the COVID-19 response, and examined whether subgroups of our study population are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Many men not only reported economic and mental health consequences, but also interruptions to HIV prevention and testing, and HIV care and treatment services. Consequences were significantly greater among people living with HIV, racial/ethnic minorities, immigrants, sex workers, and socio-economically disadvantaged groups. Findings underscore the crucial need to mitigate the multifaceted impacts of COVID-19 among gay men and other MSM, especially for those with intersecting vulnerabilities.

13.
SSRN;
Preprint in English | SSRN | ID: ppcovidwho-325777

ABSTRACT

Vaccination policies have shifted dramatically during COVID-19 with the rapid emergence of population-wide vaccine mandates, domestic vaccine passports, and differential restrictions based on vaccination status. These policies have prompted ethical, scientific, practical, and political controversy;however, there has been limited evaluation of their potential unintended consequences. Here, we outline a comprehensive set of hypotheses for why these policies may be counter-productive and harmful. Our framework considers four domains: 1) behavioral psychology, 2) politics and law, 3) socioeconomics, and 4) the integrity of science and public health. While COVID-19 vaccines have had a profound impact on decreasing global morbidity and mortality burdens, we argue that current population-wide mandatory vaccine policies are scientifically questionable, ethically problematic, and misguided. Such policies may lead to detrimental long-term impacts on uptake of future public health measures, including COVID-19 vaccines themselves as well as routine immunizations. Restricting people’s access to work, education, public transport, and social life based on COVID-19 vaccination status impinges on human rights, promotes stigma and social polarization, and adversely affects health and wellbeing. Mandating vaccination is one of the most powerful interventions in public health and should be used sparingly and carefully to uphold ethical norms and trust in scientific institutions. We argue that current COVID-19 vaccine policies should be reevaluated in light of negative consequences that may outweigh benefits. Leveraging empowering strategies based on trust and public consultation represent a more sustainable approach for protecting those at highest risk of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality and the health and wellbeing of the public.

14.
CMAJ ; 194(6): E195-E204, 2022 02 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1686132

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Understanding inequalities in SARS-CoV-2 transmission associated with the social determinants of health could help the development of effective mitigation strategies that are responsive to local transmission dynamics. This study aims to quantify social determinants of geographic concentration of SARS-CoV-2 cases across 16 census metropolitan areas (hereafter, cities) in 4 Canadian provinces, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. METHODS: We used surveillance data on confirmed SARS-CoV-2 cases and census data for social determinants at the level of the dissemination area (DA). We calculated Gini coefficients to determine the overall geographic heterogeneity of confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 in each city, and calculated Gini covariance coefficients to determine each city's heterogeneity by each social determinant (income, education, housing density and proportions of visible minorities, recent immigrants and essential workers). We visualized heterogeneity using Lorenz (concentration) curves. RESULTS: We observed geographic concentration of SARS-CoV-2 cases in cities, as half of the cumulative cases were concentrated in DAs containing 21%-35% of their population, with the greatest geographic heterogeneity in Ontario cities (Gini coefficients 0.32-0.47), followed by British Columbia (0.23-0.36), Manitoba (0.32) and Quebec (0.28-0.37). Cases were disproportionately concentrated in areas with lower income and educational attainment, and in areas with a higher proportion of visible minorities, recent immigrants, high-density housing and essential workers. Although a consistent feature across cities was concentration by the proportion of visible minorities, the magnitude of concentration by social determinant varied across cities. INTERPRETATION: Geographic concentration of SARS-CoV-2 cases was observed in all of the included cities, but the pattern by social determinants varied. Geographically prioritized allocation of resources and services should be tailored to the local drivers of inequalities in transmission in response to the resurgence of SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Demography/statistics & numerical data , Social Determinants of Health/statistics & numerical data , COVID-19/economics , Canada/epidemiology , Cities/epidemiology , Cross-Sectional Studies , Demography/economics , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Social Determinants of Health/economics , Socioeconomic Factors
16.
Mult Scler Relat Disord ; 58: 103509, 2022 Feb.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1637911

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: To report clinical characteristics and outcomes of people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS) who developed COVID-19 infection in Toronto, Canada. METHODS: Descriptive, retrospective, single-center study that included all known PwMS at the St. Michael's Hospital MS Clinic who had PCR-confirmed COVID-19 infection between March 2020 and May 2021. RESULTS: Of 7000 PwMS in our clinic, 80 (1.1%) tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Fifty-four (67.5%) were on disease-modifying therapy (DMT) without over-representation of any single treatment. Seventy-one patients (88.8%) had mild symptoms, but nine (11.3%) were hospitalized and one 70-year-old male patient not on treatment died. Of those hospitalized, one-third were treated with ocrelizumab. CONCLUSION: In Toronto, PwMS did not appear to have higher prevalence of COVID-19 infection compared to the general population, but disease severity may be affected by DMT use. Our findings add to the accumulating global data regarding COVID-19 infection in PwMS.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Multiple Sclerosis , Humans , Male , Multiple Sclerosis/complications , Multiple Sclerosis/drug therapy , Multiple Sclerosis/epidemiology , Retrospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , Severity of Illness Index
17.
2021.
Preprint in English | Other preprints | ID: ppcovidwho-296345

ABSTRACT

Background There is a growing recognition that strategies to reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission should be responsive to local transmission dynamics. Studies have revealed inequalities along social determinants of health, but little investigation was conducted surrounding geographic concentration within cities. We quantified social determinants of geographic concentration of COVID-19 cases across sixteen census metropolitan areas (CMA) in four Canadian provinces. Methods We used surveillance data on confirmed COVID-19 cases at the level of dissemination area. Gini (co-Gini) coefficients were calculated by CMA based on the proportion of the population in ranks of diagnosed cases and each social determinant using census data (income, education, visible minority, recent immigration, suitable housing, and essential workers) and the corresponding share of cases. Heterogeneity was visualized using Lorenz (concentration) curves. Results Geographic concentration was observed in all CMAs (half of the cumulative cases were concentrated among 21-35% of each city’s population): with the greatest geographic heterogeneity in Ontario CMAs (Gini coefficients, 0.32-0.47), followed by British Columbia (0.23-0.36), Manitoba (0.32), and Québec (0.28-0.37). Cases were disproportionately concentrated in areas with lower income, education attainment, and suitable housing;and higher proportion of visible minorities, recent immigrants, and essential workers. Although a consistent feature across CMAs was concentration by proportion visible minorities, the magnitude of concentration by social determinants varied across CMAs. Interpretation The feature of geographical concentration of COVID-19 cases was consistent across CMAs, but the pattern by social determinants varied. Geographically-prioritized allocation of resources and services should be tailored to the local drivers of inequalities in transmission in response to SARS-CoV-2’s resurgence.

18.
CMAJ ; 193(32): E1261-E1276, 2021 08 16.
Article in French | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1538242

ABSTRACT

CONTEXTE: Optimiser la réponse de la santé publique pour diminuer le fardeau de la COVID-19 nécessite la caractérisation de l'hétérogénéité du risque posé par la maladie à l'échelle de la population. Cependant, l'hétérogénéité du dépistage du SRAS-CoV-2 peut fausser les estimations selon le modèle d'étude analytique utilisé. Notre objectif était d'explorer les biais collisionneurs dans le cadre d'une vaste étude portant sur les déterminants de la maladie et d'évaluer les déterminants individuels, environnementaux et sociaux du dépistage et du diagnostic du SRAS-CoV-2 parmi les résidents de l'Ontario, au Canada. MÉTHODES: Nous avons exploré la présence potentielle de biais collisionneurs et caractérisé les déterminants individuels, environnementaux et sociaux de l'obtention d'un test de dépistage et d'un résultat positif à la présence de l'infection au SRAS-CoV-2 à l'aide d'analyses transversales parmi les 14,7 millions de personnes vivant dans la collectivité en Ontario, au Canada. Parmi les personnes ayant obtenu un diagnostic, nous avons utilisé des études analytiques distinctes afin de comparer les prédicteurs pour les personnes d'obtenir un résultat de test de dépistage positif plutôt que négatif, pour les personnes symptomatiques d'obtenir un résultat de test de dépistage positif plutôt que négatif et pour les personnes d'obtenir un résultat de test de dépistage positif plutôt que de ne pas obtenir un résultat positif (c.-à-d., obtenir un résultat de test de dépistage négatif ou ne pas obtenir de test de dépistage). Nos analyses comprennent des tests de dépistage réalisés entre le 1er mars et le 20 juin 2020. RÉSULTATS: Sur 14 695 579 personnes, nous avons constaté que 758 691 d'entre elles ont passé un test de dépistage du SRAS-CoV-2, parmi lesquelles 25 030 (3,3 %) ont obtenu un résultat positif. Plus la probabilité d'obtenir un test de dépistage s'éloignait de zéro, plus la variabilité généralement observée dans la probabilité d'un diagnostic était grande parmi les modèles d'études analytiques, particulièrement en ce qui a trait aux facteurs individuels. Nous avons constaté que la variabilité dans l'obtention d'un test de dépistage était moins importante en fonction des déterminants sociaux dans l'ensemble des études analytiques. Les facteurs tels que le fait d'habiter dans une région ayant une plus haute densité des ménages (rapport de cotes corrigé 1,86; intervalle de confiance [IC] à 95 % 1,75­1,98), une plus grande proportion de travailleurs essentiels (rapport de cotes corrigé 1,58; IC à 95 % 1,48­1,69), une population atteignant un plus faible niveau de scolarité (rapport de cotes corrigé 1,33; IC à 95 % 1,26­1,41) et une plus grande proportion d'immigrants récents (rapport de cotes corrigé 1,10; IC à 95 % 1,05­1,15), étaient systématiquement corrélés à une probabilité plus importante d'obtenir un diagnostic de SRAS-CoV-2, peu importe le modèle d'étude analytique employé. INTERPRÉTATION: Lorsque la capacité de dépister est limitée, nos résultats suggèrent que les facteurs de risque peuvent être estimés plus adéquatement en utilisant des comparateurs populationnels plutôt que des comparateurs de résultat négatif au test de dépistage. Optimiser la lutte contre la COVID-19 nécessite des investissements dans des interventions structurelles déployées de façon suffisante et adaptées à l'hétérogénéité des déterminants sociaux du risque, dont le surpeuplement des ménages, l'occupation professionnelle et le racisme structurel.

19.
BMJ Open ; 11(11): e055530, 2021 11 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1528555

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: With over 82.4 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide, there remains an urgent need to better describe culturally, contextually and age-tailored strategies for preventing COVID-19 in humanitarian contexts. Knowledge gaps are particularly pronounced for urban refugees who experience poverty, overcrowded living conditions and poor sanitation access that constrain the ability to practise COVID-19 mitigation strategies such as physical distancing and frequent hand washing. With over 1.4 million refugees, Uganda is sub-Saharan Africa's largest refugee hosting nation. More than 90 000 of Uganda's refugees live in Kampala, most in informal settlements, and 27% are aged 15-24 years old. There is an urgent need for tailored COVID-19 responses with urban refugee adolescents and youth. This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of an 8-week interactive informational mobile health intervention on COVID-19 prevention practices among refugee and displaced youth aged 16-24 years in Kampala, Uganda. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: We will conduct a pre-test/post-test study nested within a larger cluster randomised trial. Approximately 385 youth participants will be enrolled and followed for 6 months. Data will be collected at three time points: before the intervention (time 1); immediately after the intervention (time 2) and at 16-week follow-up (time 3). The primary outcome (self-efficacy to practise COVID-19 prevention measures) and secondary outcomes (COVID-19 risk awareness, attitudes, norms and self-regulation practices; depression; sexual and reproductive health practices; food and water security; COVID-19 vaccine acceptability) will be evaluated using descriptive statistics and regression analyses. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: This study has been approved by the University of Toronto Research Ethics Board, the Mildmay Uganda Research Ethics Committee, and the Uganda National Council for Science & Technology. The results will be published in peer-reviewed journals, and findings communicated through reports and conference presentations. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ClinicalTrials.gov Registry (NCT04631367).


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Refugees , Telemedicine , Adolescent , Adult , COVID-19 Vaccines , Humans , Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic , SARS-CoV-2 , Uganda , Young Adult
20.
Ann Epidemiol ; 65: 84-92, 2022 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1525672

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Inequities in the burden of COVID-19 were observed early in Canada and around the world, suggesting economically marginalized communities faced disproportionate risks. However, there has been limited systematic assessment of how heterogeneity in risks has evolved in large urban centers over time. PURPOSE: To address this gap, we quantified the magnitude of risk heterogeneity in Toronto, Ontario from January to November 2020 using a retrospective, population-based observational study using surveillance data. METHODS: We generated epidemic curves by social determinants of health (SDOH) and crude Lorenz curves by neighbourhoods to visualize inequities in the distribution of COVID-19 and estimated Gini coefficients. We examined the correlation between SDOH using Pearson-correlation coefficients. RESULTS: Gini coefficient of cumulative cases by population size was 0.41 (95% confidence interval [CI]:0.36-0.47) and estimated for: household income (0.20, 95%CI: 0.14-0.28); visible minority (0.21, 95%CI:0.16-0.28); recent immigration (0.12, 95%CI:0.09-0.16); suitable housing (0.21, 95%CI:0.14-0.30); multigenerational households (0.19, 95%CI:0.15-0.23); and essential workers (0.28, 95%CI:0.23-0.34). CONCLUSIONS: There was rapid epidemiologic transition from higher- to lower-income neighborhoods with Lorenz curve transitioning from below to above the line of equality across SDOH. Moving forward necessitates integrating programs and policies addressing socioeconomic inequities and structural racism into COVID-19 prevention and vaccination programs.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Geography , Humans , Ontario/epidemiology , Retrospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , Socioeconomic Factors
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