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1.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-336247

ABSTRACT

Objective To analyse the impact on hospital admissions for COVID-19 of large-scale, voluntary, public open access rapid testing for SARS-CoV-2 antigen in Liverpool (UK) between 6 th November 2020 and 2 nd January 2021. Design Synthetic control analysis comparing hospital admissions for small areas in the intervention population to a group of control areas weighted to be similar in terms of prior COVID-19 hospital admission rates and socio-demographic factors. Intervention COVID-SMART (Systematic Meaningful Asymptomatic Repeated Testing), a national pilot of large-scale, voluntary rapid antigen testing for people without symptoms of COVID-19 living or working in the City of Liverpool, deployed with the assistance of the British Army from the 6 th November 2020 in an unvaccinated population. This pilot informed the UK roll-out of SARS-CoV-2 antigen rapid testing, and similar policies internationally. Main outcome measure Weekly COVID-19 hospital admissions for neighbourhoods in England. Results The intensive introduction of COVID-SMART community testing was associated with a 43% (95% confidence interval: 29% to 57%) reduction in COVID-19 hospital admissions in Liverpool compared to control areas for the initial period of intensive testing with military assistance in national lockdown from 6 th November to 3 rd December 2020. A 25% (11% to 35%) reduction was estimated across the overall intervention period (6 th November 2020 to 2 nd January 2021), involving fewer testing centres, before England’s national roll-out of community testing, after adjusting for regional differences in Tiers of COVID-19 restrictions from 3 rd December 2020 to 2 nd January 2021. Conclusions The world’s first voluntary, city-wide SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen testing pilot in Liverpool substantially reduced COVID-19 hospital admissions. Large scale asymptomatic rapid testing for SARS-CoV-2 can help reduce transmission and prevent hospital admissions. Summary box What is already known on this topic – Previous studies on managing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 have identified asymptomatic transmission as significant challenges for controlling the pandemic. – Along with non-pharmaceutical measures, many countries rolled out population-based asymptomatic testing programmes to further limit transmission. – Evidence is required on whether large scale voluntary testing of communities for COVID-19 reduces severe disease, by breaking chains of transmission. What this study adds – The findings of this study suggest that large scale rapid antigen testing of communities for SARS-CoV-2, within an agile local public health campaign, can reduce transmission and prevent hospital admissions. – The results indicate that policy makers should integrate such testing into comprehensive, local public health programmes targeting high risk groups, supporting those required to isolate and adapting promptly to prevailing biological, behavioural and environmental circumstances.

2.
BMJ Open ; 12(4): e054101, 2022 04 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1788960

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: To analyse the impact on SARS-CoV-2 transmission of tier 3 restrictions introduced in October and December 2020 in England, compared with tier 2 restrictions. We further investigate whether these effects varied between small areas by deprivation. DESIGN: Synthetic control analysis. SETTING: We identified areas introducing tier 3 restrictions in October and December, constructed a synthetic control group of places under tier 2 restrictions and compared changes in weekly infections over a 4-week period. Using interaction analysis, we estimated whether this effect varied by deprivation and the prevalence of a new variant (B.1.1.7). INTERVENTIONS: In both October and December, no indoor between-household mixing was permitted in either tier 2 or 3. In October, no between-household mixing was permitted in private gardens and pubs and restaurants remained open only if they served a 'substantial meal' in tier 3, while in tier 2 meeting with up to six people in private gardens were allowed and all pubs and restaurants remained open. In December, in tier 3, pubs and restaurants were closed, while in tier 2, only those serving food remained open. The differences in restrictions between tier 2 and 3 on meeting outside remained the same as in October. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Weekly reported cases adjusted for changing case detection rates for neighbourhoods in England. RESULTS: Introducing tier 3 restrictions in October and December was associated with a 14% (95% CI 10% to 19%) and 20% (95% CI 13% to 29%) reduction in infections, respectively, compared with the rates expected with tier 2 restrictions only. The effects were similar across levels of deprivation and by the prevalence of the new variant. CONCLUSIONS: Compared with tier 2 restrictions, additional restrictions in tier 3 areas in England had a moderate effect on transmission, which did not appear to increase socioeconomic inequalities in COVID-19 cases.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Family Characteristics , Humans , Restaurants
3.
Health Place ; 74: 102741, 2022 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1664951

ABSTRACT

This ethnographic study in two socio-economically contrasting areas employed geo-ethnography, underpinned by a relational approach, to understand inequalities in gastrointestinal infections in families with young children. In our 'relatively disadvantaged' area, gastrointestinal infections spread to multiple households within a small radius, whereas in our 'relatively advantaged' area, illness was confined to one household or dispersed long distances. These differences were shaped by historical, social and economic contrasts in: housing; social networks and childcare arrangements; employment and household income. Our findings show how linking places, pathogens and people helps us understand inequalities in gastrointestinal infections and may be pertinent to other infectious diseases such as COVID-19.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Communicable Diseases , Anthropology, Cultural , COVID-19/epidemiology , Child , Child, Preschool , Communicable Diseases/epidemiology , Humans , Socioeconomic Factors , United Kingdom
4.
The Lancet ; 398, 2021.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-1537173

ABSTRACT

Background In 2020, a second wave of COVID-19 cases unevenly affected places in England, and different levels of tiered restrictions were introduced in different parts of the country. Previous research has examined the impact of national lockdowns on transmission. We aimed to examine the differences in the effect of localised restrictions on COVID-19 cases and how these differences varied by deprivation. Methods We examined the transmission impact of tier 3 restrictions using data on weekly reported COVID-19 cases, adjusted for case-detection rates for 7201 neighbourhoods in England. We identified areas that entered tier 3 restrictions in October and December, 2020, constructed a synthetic control group of places under tier 2 restrictions, and compared changes in weekly infections over a 4-week period. Sufficiently granular data on deaths were not available to investigate excess mortality. We analysed whether this effect varied by level of deprivation and the prevalence of a new variant (B.1.1.7), by stratifying the synthetic control weighting by subgroups and then including an interaction term between subgroup and intervention in the regression model. We used the English Indices of Multiple Deprivation and its tertiles in the stratification to measure deprivation. We tested the spatial spillover effects excluding tier 2 areas within 20 km of tier 3 areas. Ethics approval was not needed. Findings The introduction of tier 3 restrictions was associated with a reduction in infections of 14% (95% CI 10–19) in October and of 20% (13–29) in December, or with a reduction in absolute number of total infections of 3536 (95% CI 2880–4192) in October and of 92 732 (49 776–135 688) in December, compared with what would have been expected under tier 2 restrictions. The effects were similar across levels of deprivation and by the prevalence of the new variant. We found smaller effects with high non-significant p values when excluding boundary areas. Interpretation Compared to tier 2 restrictions, restrictions on hospitality and meeting outdoors in tier 3 areas had a moderate effect on transmission and these restrictions did not appear to increase inequalities in COVID-19 cases. Limitations include a lack of specificity as to which of the main restrictions contributed to this effect, potentially biases from the crude measure of case-detection rates applied, and the lack of controls for individual or household characteristics in this ecological analysis. Funding National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

5.
Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health ; 75(Suppl 1):A80-A81, 2021.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-1394176

ABSTRACT

BackgroundLocal authorities (LAs) provide Cultural, Environmental, and Planning (CEP) services, such as parks, libraries, and waste collection, that are vital in supporting the health of the communities they serve. There have been significant changes to LA funding recently, most notably due to the UK government’s austerity programme. These changes have not affected all places equally. To understand potential impacts on health inequalities, we investigated the extent to which areas have been differentially affected by declines in CEP services spending based on local characteristics.MethodsWe conducted a longitudinal ecological study using routinely available data on LA expenditure, as collated in the Place-Based Longitudinal Data Resource. We used generalised estimating equations to determine how expenditure trends varied across 378 LAs in Great Britain between 2009 and 2018 on the basis of country, deprivation, rurality, and local government structure. We investigated the gross expenditure per capita on CEP services, and the CEP expenditure as a proportion of total LA budgets. We conducted analysis using R v4.0.2.ResultsExpenditure per capita for CEP services reduced by 36% between 2009 and 2018. In England, the reduction in per capita spending was steepest in the most deprived quintile of areas, falling by 5.9% [95% CI: 4.7;7.0] per year, compared to 3.3% [95% CI: 2.5;4.1] in the least deprived quintile. Budget cuts in Scotland and Wales have been more equitable, showing little differentiation between most and least deprived areas. Welsh LAs have reduced the proportion of total LA budget spent on CEP services more than any other country (-2.9% per year [95% CI: -4.0;-1.8]), followed by Scotland (-1.5% [95% CI: -2.8;-0.3]) then England (-0.5% [95% CI: -1.0;0.1). In England, rural LAs have reduced their CEP spending share more than those in urban areas, and unitary authorities have reduced their share more than those in a two-tier structure.ConclusionThere have been distinct inequalities in the reduction of spending for CEP services. LAs with a higher baseline level of deprivation, those with a single-tier local government structure, and English rural LAs have been worst affected. These inequalities in cuts to services that impact public health risk widening geographical and social health inequalities. Understanding these inequalities will provide crucial evidence to inform the UK government’s ‘levelling up’ strategy as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. One limitation of our study is that we were unable to investigate how resources have been distributed within LAs.

6.
Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health ; 75(Suppl 1):A3, 2021.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-1394144

ABSTRACT

BackgroundAsymptomatic transmission of SARS-CoV-2 poses a significant burden on managing the spread of COVID-19. Few studies have evaluated the impact of testing for asymptomatic COVID-19 among large populations or whole cities using empirical data. No study to our knowledge has considered if such interventions result in or exacerbate existing socioeconomic inequalities. The aim of our study is to explore social and spatial inequalities in uptake and case-detection of rapid lateral flow SARS-CoV-2 antigen tests (LFTs) offered to people without symptoms of COVID-19 in Liverpool between 6th November 2020 and 31st January 2021.MethodsLinked pseudonymised records for asymptomatic residents in Liverpool (UK) who received a LFT for COVID-19 between 6th November 2020 to 31st January 2021 were accessed using the Combined Intelligence for Population Health Action (CIPHA) data resource. Bayesian Hierarchical Poisson Besag, York, and Mollié models were used to estimate ecological associations for uptake and positivity of testing.Results214 525 residents (43%) received a LFT identifying 5557 individuals as positive cases of COVID-19 (1.3%). Uptake was highest in November when there was military assistance. High uptake was observed again in the week preceding Christmas and was sustained into a national lockdown. Overall uptake and repeat testing were lower among males (e.g. 40% uptake over the whole period), Black Asian and other Minority Ethnic groups (e.g. 27% uptake for ‘Mixed’ ethnicity) and in the most deprived areas (e.g. 32% uptake in most deprived areas). These population groups were also more likely to have received positive tests for COVID-19. Models demonstrated that uptake and repeat testing were lower in areas of higher deprivation, areas located further from test sites and areas containing populations less confident in the using Internet technologies. Positive tests were spatially clustered in deprived areas.ConclusionOur study provides the first substantial evidence on inequalities involved in large-scale asymptomatic rapid testing of populations for SARS-CoV-2. Large-scale voluntary asymptomatic community testing saw social, ethnic, and spatial inequalities in an ‘inverse care’ pattern, but with an added digital exclusion factor. While test uptake was popular, there was a disconnect between the populations accessing testing and those experiencing harms relating to COVID-19. COVID-19 testing and support to isolate need to be more accessible to the vulnerable communities most impacted by the pandemic, including non-digital means of access.

7.
Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health ; 75(Suppl 1):A1, 2021.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-1394140

ABSTRACT

BackgroundIn 2020, a second wave of COVID-19 cases unevenly affected places in England leading to the introduction of a tiered system of controls with different geographical areas subject to different levels of restrictions. Whilst previous research has examined the impact of national lockdowns on transmission, there has been limited research examining the marginal effect of differences in localised restrictions or how these effects vary between socioeconomic contexts. We therefore examined how Tier 3 restrictions in England implemented between October-December 2020, which included additional restrictions on the hospitality sector and people meeting outdoors affected COVID-19 case rates, compared to Tier 2 restrictions, and how these effects varied by level of deprivation.MethodsWe used data on weekly reported COVID-19 cases for 7201 neighbourhoods in England and adjusted these for changing case-detection rates to provide an estimate of weekly SARS-CoV-2 infections in each neighbourhood. We identified those areas that entered Tier 3 restrictions at two time points in October and December, and constructed a synthetic control group of similar places that had entered Tier 2 restrictions, using calibration weights to match them on a wide range of covariates that may influence transmission. We then compared the change in weekly infections between those entering Tier 3 to the synthetic control group to estimate the proportional reduction of cases resulting from Tier 3 restrictions compared to Tier 2 restrictions, over a 4-week period. We further used interaction analysis to estimate whether this effect differed based on the level of socioeconomic deprivation in each neighbourhood and whether effects were modified by the prevalence of a new more infectious variant of SARS-CoV-2 (B.1.1.7) in each area.ResultsThe introduction of Tier 3 restrictions in October and December was associated with a 14% (95% CI 10% to 19%) and 20% (95% CI 13% to 29%) reduction in infections respectively, compared to the rates expected if only Tier 2 restrictions had been in place in those areas. We found that effects were similar across levels of deprivation and limited evidence that Tier 3 restrictions had a greater effect in areas where the new more infectious variant was more prevalent.DiscussionCompared to Tier 2 restrictions, additional restrictions on hospitality and meeting outdoors introduced in Tier 3 areas in England had a moderate effect on transmission and these restrictions did not appear to increase inequalities.

8.
Front Public Health ; 9: 584182, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1369731

ABSTRACT

Objectives: Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, people with underlying comorbidities were overrepresented in hospitalised cases of COVID-19, but the relationship between comorbidity and COVID-19 outcomes was complicated by potential confounding by age. This review therefore sought to characterise the international evidence base available in the early stages of the pandemic on the association between comorbidities and progression to severe disease, critical care, or death, after accounting for age, among hospitalised patients with COVID-19. Methods: We conducted a rapid, comprehensive review of the literature (to 14 May 2020), to assess the international evidence on the age-adjusted association between comorbidities and severe COVID-19 progression or death, among hospitalised COVID-19 patients - the only population for whom studies were available at that time. Results: After screening 1,100 studies, we identified 14 eligible for inclusion. Overall, evidence for obesity and cancer increasing risk of severe disease or death was most consistent. Most studies found that having at least one of obesity, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, or chronic lung disease was significantly associated with worse outcomes following hospitalisation. Associations were more consistent for mortality than other outcomes. Increasing numbers of comorbidities and obesity both showed a dose-response relationship. Quality and reporting were suboptimal in these rapidly conducted studies, and there was a clear need for additional studies using population-based samples. Conclusions: This review summarises the most robust evidence on this topic that was available in the first few months of the pandemic. It was clear at this early stage that COVID-19 would go on to exacerbate existing health inequalities unless actions were taken to reduce pre-existing vulnerabilities and target control measures to protect groups with chronic health conditions.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Comorbidity , Critical Care , Humans , SARS-CoV-2
9.
Soc Sci Med ; 282: 114131, 2021 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1267925

ABSTRACT

Gastrointestinal infections are an important global public health issue. In the UK, one in four people experience a gastrointestinal infection each year and epidemiological research highlights inequalities in the burden of disease. Specifically, poorer children are at greater risk of infection and the consequences of illness, such as symptom severity and time off work/school, are greater for less privileged groups of all ages. Gastrointestinal infections are, however, largely 'hidden' within the home and little is known about the lived experience and practices surrounding these illnesses, how they vary across contrasting socioeconomic contexts, or how inequalities in the disease burden across socioeconomic groups might come about. This paper presents data from an ethnographic study which illuminate how socioeconomic inequalities in the physical and material management and consequences of gastrointestinal infections are generated in families with young children. The study shows how the 'work' needed to manage gastrointestinal infections is more laborious for people living in more 'disadvantaged' conditions, exacerbated by: more overcrowded homes with fewer washing and toilet facilities; inflexible employment; low household incomes; and higher likelihood of co-morbidities which can be made worse by having a gastrointestinal infection. Our findings call into question the current approach to prevention of gastrointestinal infections which tend to focus almost exclusively on individual behaviours, which are not adapted to reflect differences in socioeconomic context. Public health agencies should also consider how wider social, economic and policy contexts shape inequalities in the management and consequences of illness. Our findings are also pertinent to the COVID-19 pandemic response in the UK. They highlight how research and policy approaches to acute infectious diseases need to take into consideration the differing lived experiences of contrasting households if they wish to address (and avoid exacerbating) inequalities in the future.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Communicable Diseases , Child , Child, Preschool , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Socioeconomic Factors , United Kingdom/epidemiology
10.
Lancet Reg Health Eur ; 6: 100107, 2021 Jul.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1225323

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Large-scale asymptomatic testing of communities in Liverpool (UK) for SARS-CoV-2 was used as a public health tool for containing COVID-19. The aim of the study is to explore social and spatial inequalities in uptake and case-detection of rapid lateral flow SARS-CoV-2 antigen tests (LFTs) offered to people without symptoms of COVID-19. METHODS: Linked pseudonymised records for asymptomatic residents in Liverpool who received a LFT for COVID-19 between 6th November 2020 to 31st January 2021 were accessed using the Combined Intelligence for Population Health Action resource. Bayesian Hierarchical Poisson Besag, York, and Mollié models were used to estimate ecological associations for uptake and positivity of testing. FINDINGS: 214 525 residents (43%) received a LFT identifying 5192 individuals as positive cases of COVID-19 (1.3% of tests were positive). Uptake was highest in November when there was military assistance. High uptake was observed again in the week preceding Christmas and was sustained into a national lockdown. Overall uptake were lower among males (e.g. 40% uptake over the whole period), Black Asian and other Minority Ethnic groups (e.g. 27% uptake for 'Mixed' ethnicity) and in the most deprived areas (e.g. 32% uptake in most deprived areas). These population groups were also more likely to have received positive tests for COVID-19. Models demonstrated that uptake and repeat testing were lower in areas of higher deprivation, areas located further from test sites and areas containing populations less confident in the using Internet technologies. Positive tests were spatially clustered in deprived areas. INTERPRETATION: Large-scale voluntary asymptomatic community testing saw social, ethnic, digital and spatial inequalities in uptake. COVID-19 testing and support to isolate need to be more accessible to the vulnerable communities most impacted by the pandemic, including non-digital means of access. FUNDING: Department of Health and Social Care (UK) and Economic and Social Research Council.

11.
J Epidemiol Community Health ; 75(10): 970-974, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1197275

ABSTRACT

Minority ethnic groups have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the exact reasons for this remain unclear, they are likely due to a complex interplay of factors rather than a single cause. Reducing these inequalities requires a greater understanding of the causes. Research to date, however, has been hampered by a lack of theoretical understanding of the meaning of 'ethnicity' (or race) and the potential pathways leading to inequalities. In particular, quantitative analyses have often adjusted away the pathways through which inequalities actually arise (ie, mediators for the effect of interest), leading to the effects of social processes, and particularly structural racism, becoming hidden. In this paper, we describe a framework for understanding the pathways that have generated ethnic (and racial) inequalities in COVID-19. We suggest that differences in health outcomes due to the pandemic could arise through six pathways: (1) differential exposure to the virus; (2) differential vulnerability to infection/disease; (3) differential health consequences of the disease; (4) differential social consequences of the disease; (5) differential effectiveness of pandemic control measures and (6) differential adverse consequences of control measures. Current research provides only a partial understanding of some of these pathways. Future research and action will require a clearer understanding of the multiple dimensions of ethnicity and an appreciation of the complex interplay of social and biological pathways through which ethnic inequalities arise. Our framework highlights the gaps in the current evidence and pathways that need further investigation in research that aims to address these inequalities.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Health Status Disparities , Minority Groups , Pandemics , COVID-19/ethnology , Humans , Minority Groups/statistics & numerical data
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