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1.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-332025

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered declines in life expectancy at birth around the world. The United States of America (USA) was hit particularly hard among high income countries. Early data from the USA showed that these losses varied greatly by race/ethnicity in 2020, with Hispanic and Black Americans suffering much larger losses in life expectancy compared to white people. We add to this research by examining trends in lifespan inequality, average years of life lost, and the contribution of specific causes of death and ages to race/ethnic life expectancy disparities in the USA from 2010 to 2020. We find that life expectancy in 2020 fell more for Hispanic and Black males (4.5 years and 3.6 years, respectively) compared to white males (1.5 years). These drops nearly eliminated the previous life expectancy advantage for the Hispanic compared to white population, while dramatically increasing the already large gap in life expectancy between Black and white people. While the drops in life expectancy for the Hispanic population were largely attributable to official COVID-19 deaths, Black Americans additionally saw increases in cardiovascular disease and 'deaths of despair' over this period. In 2020, lifespan inequality increased slightly for Hispanic and white populations, but decreased for Black people, reflecting the younger age pattern of COVID-19 deaths for Hispanic people. Overall, the mortality burden of the COVID-19 pandemic hit race/ethnic minorities particularly hard in the USA, underscoring the importance of the social determinants of health during a public health crisis.

2.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-329814

ABSTRACT

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent need to understand variation in immunosenescence at the population-level. Thus far, population patterns of immunosenescence are not well described. Methods. We characterized measures of immunosenescence from newly released venous blood data from the nationally representative U.S Health and Retirement Study (HRS) of individuals ages 56 years and older. Findings. Median values of the CD8+:CD4+, EMRA:Naive CD4+ and EMRA:Naive CD8+ ratios were higher among older participants and were lower in those with additional educational attainment. Generally, minoritized race and ethnic groups had immune markers suggestive of a more aged immune profile: Hispanics had a CD8+:CD4+ median value of 0.37 (95% CI: 0.35, 0.39) compared to 0.30 in Whites (95% CI: 0.29, 0.31). Blacks had the highest median value of the EMRA:Naive CD4+ ratio (0.08;95% CI: 0.07, 0.09) compared to Whites (0.03;95% CI: 0.028, 0.033). In regression analyses, race/ethnicity and education were associated with large differences in the immune ratio measures after adjustment for age and sex. For example, each additional level of education was associated with roughly an additional decade of immunological age, and the racial/ethnic differences were associated with two to four decades of additional immunological age. Interpretation. Our study provides novel insights into population variation in immunosenescence. This has implications for both risk of age-related disease and vulnerability to novel pathogens (e.g., SARS-CoV-2).

4.
Public Health Rep ; 137(3): 449-456, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1724144

ABSTRACT

The World Health Organization has identified excessive COVID-19 pandemic-related information as a public health crisis, calling it an "infodemic." Social media allows misinformation to spread quickly and outcompete scientifically grounded information delivered via other methods. Dear Pandemic is an innovative, multidisciplinary, social media-based science communication project whose mission is to educate and empower individuals to successfully navigate the overwhelming amount of information circulating during the pandemic. This mission has 2 primary objectives: (1) to disseminate trustworthy, comprehensive, and timely scientific content about the pandemic to lay audiences via social media and (2) to promote media literacy and information-hygiene practices, equipping readers to better manage the COVID-19 infodemic within their own networks. The volunteer team of scientists publishes 8-16 posts per week on pandemic-relevant topics. Nearly 2 years after it launched in March 2020, the project has a combined monthly reach of more than 4 million unique views across 4 social media channels, an email newsletter, and a website. We describe the project's guiding principles, lessons learned, challenges, and opportunities. Dear Pandemic has emerged as an example of a promising new paradigm for public health communication and intervention. The contributors deliver content in ways that are personal, practical, actionable, responsive, and native to social media platforms. The project's guiding principles are a model for public health communication targeting future infodemics and can bridge the chasm between the scientific community and the practical daily decision-making needs of the general public.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Health Communication , Social Media , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Infodemic , Pandemics
6.
EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-307039

ABSTRACT

Social distancing and isolation have been introduced widely to counter the COVID-19 pandemic. However, more moderate contact reduction policies become desirable owing to adverse social, psychological, and economic consequences of a complete or near-complete lockdown. Adopting a social network approach, we evaluate the effectiveness of three targeted distancing strategies designed to 'keep the curve flat' and aid compliance in a post-lockdown world. These are limiting interaction to a few repeated contacts, seeking similarity across contacts, and strengthening communities via triadic strategies. We simulate stochastic infection curves that incorporate core elements from infection models, ideal-type social network models, and statistical relational event models. We demonstrate that strategic reduction of contact can strongly increase the efficiency of social distancing measures, introducing the possibility of allowing some social contact while keeping risks low. This approach provides nuanced insights to policy makers for effective social distancing that can mitigate negative consequences of social isolation.

7.
Public Health Nurs ; 38(4): 603-609, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1194174

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent proliferation of misinformation have created parallel public health crises. Social media offers a novel platform to amplify evidence-based communication to broader audiences. This paper describes the application of science communication engagement on social media platforms by an interdisciplinary team of female scientists in a campaign called Dear Pandemic. Nurses are trusted professionals trained in therapeutic communication and are central to this effort. The Dear Pandemic campaign now has more than 97,000 followers with international and multilingual impact. Public health strategies to combat misinformation and guide individual behavior via social media show promise, and require further investment to support this novel dissemination of science communication.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/nursing , Communication , Nurses/psychology , Pandemics , Social Media , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Public Health/methods , Trust
8.
J Epidemiol Community Health ; 75(8): 735-740, 2021 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1038423

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Deaths directly linked to COVID-19 infection may be misclassified, and the pandemic may have indirectly affected other causes of death. To overcome these measurement challenges, we estimate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mortality, life expectancy and lifespan inequality from week 10 of 2020, when the first COVID-19 death was registered, to week 47 ending 20 November 2020 in England and Wales through an analysis of excess mortality. METHODS: We estimated age and sex-specific excess mortality risk and deaths above a baseline adjusted for seasonality with a systematic comparison of four different models using data from the Office for National Statistics. We additionally provide estimates of life expectancy at birth and lifespan inequality defined as the SD in age at death. RESULTS: There have been 57 419 (95% prediction interval: 54 197, 60 752) excess deaths in the first 47 weeks of 2020, 55% of which occurred in men. Excess deaths increased sharply with age and men experienced elevated risks of death in all age groups. Life expectancy at birth dropped 0.9 and 1.2 years for women and men relative to the 2019 levels, respectively. Lifespan inequality also fell over the same period by 5 months for both sexes. CONCLUSION: Quantifying excess deaths and their impact on life expectancy at birth provide a more comprehensive picture of the burden of COVID-19 on mortality. Whether mortality will return to-or even fall below-the baseline level remains to be seen as the pandemic continues to unfold and diverse interventions are put in place.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/psychology , Cost of Illness , Life Expectancy , Longevity , Mortality , Pandemics , Adolescent , COVID-19/epidemiology , Cause of Death , Child , Child, Preschool , England/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Infant , Infant, Newborn , Male , SARS-CoV-2 , Wales/epidemiology
11.
BMC Med ; 18(1): 203, 2020 06 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-617305

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: COVID-19 poses one of the most profound public health crises for a hundred years. As of mid-May 2020, across the world, almost 300,000 deaths and over 4 million confirmed cases were registered. Reaching over 30,000 deaths by early May, the UK had the highest number of recorded deaths in Europe, second in the world only to the USA. Hospitalization and death from COVID-19 have been linked to demographic and socioeconomic variation. Since this varies strongly by location, there is an urgent need to analyse the mismatch between health care demand and supply at the local level. As lockdown measures ease, reinfection may vary by area, necessitating a real-time tool for local and regional authorities to anticipate demand. METHODS: Combining census estimates and hospital capacity data from ONS and NHS at the Administrative Region, Ceremonial County (CC), Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Lower Layer Super Output Area (LSOA) level from England and Wales, we calculate the number of individuals at risk of COVID-19 hospitalization. Combining multiple sources, we produce geospatial risk maps on an online dashboard that dynamically illustrate how the pre-crisis health system capacity matches local variations in hospitalization risk related to age, social deprivation, population density and ethnicity, also adjusting for the overall infection rate and hospital capacity. RESULTS: By providing fine-grained estimates of expected hospitalization, we identify areas that face higher disproportionate health care burdens due to COVID-19, with respect to pre-crisis levels of hospital bed capacity. Including additional risks beyond age-composition of the area such as social deprivation, race/ethnic composition and population density offers a further nuanced identification of areas with disproportionate health care demands. CONCLUSIONS: Areas face disproportionate risks for COVID-19 hospitalization pressures due to their socioeconomic differences and the demographic composition of their populations. Our flexible online dashboard allows policy-makers and health officials to monitor and evaluate potential health care demand at a granular level as the infection rate and hospital capacity changes throughout the course of this pandemic. This agile knowledge is invaluable to tackle the enormous logistical challenges to re-allocate resources and target susceptible areas for aggressive testing and tracing to mitigate transmission.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/therapy , Health Services Needs and Demand , Hospitalization , Pneumonia, Viral/therapy , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Betacoronavirus , COVID-19 , Child , Child, Preschool , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Delivery of Health Care , Demography , England/epidemiology , Europe , Female , Forecasting , Hospital Bed Capacity , Humans , Infant , Infant, Newborn , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , SARS-CoV-2 , Socioeconomic Factors , Wales/epidemiology , Young Adult
13.
Nat Hum Behav ; 4(6): 588-596, 2020 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-531316

ABSTRACT

Social distancing and isolation have been widely introduced to counter the COVID-19 pandemic. Adverse social, psychological and economic consequences of a complete or near-complete lockdown demand the development of more moderate contact-reduction policies. Adopting a social network approach, we evaluate the effectiveness of three distancing strategies designed to keep the curve flat and aid compliance in a post-lockdown world. These are: limiting interaction to a few repeated contacts akin to forming social bubbles; seeking similarity across contacts; and strengthening communities via triadic strategies. We simulate stochastic infection curves incorporating core elements from infection models, ideal-type social network models and statistical relational event models. We demonstrate that a strategic social network-based reduction of contact strongly enhances the effectiveness of social distancing measures while keeping risks lower. We provide scientific evidence for effective social distancing that can be applied in public health messaging and that can mitigate negative consequences of social isolation.


Subject(s)
Communicable Disease Control/methods , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Models, Theoretical , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , Social Isolation , Social Networking , COVID-19 , Humans
14.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 117(18): 9696-9698, 2020 05 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-73367

ABSTRACT

Governments around the world must rapidly mobilize and make difficult policy decisions to mitigate the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Because deaths have been concentrated at older ages, we highlight the important role of demography, particularly, how the age structure of a population may help explain differences in fatality rates across countries and how transmission unfolds. We examine the role of age structure in deaths thus far in Italy and South Korea and illustrate how the pandemic could unfold in populations with similar population sizes but different age structures, showing a dramatically higher burden of mortality in countries with older versus younger populations. This powerful interaction of demography and current age-specific mortality for COVID-19 suggests that social distancing and other policies to slow transmission should consider the age composition of local and national contexts as well as intergenerational interactions. We also call for countries to provide case and fatality data disaggregated by age and sex to improve real-time targeted forecasting of hospitalization and critical care needs.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Adult , Age Factors , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/mortality , Humans , Italy , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/mortality , Republic of Korea , SARS-CoV-2 , Sex Factors
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