Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on asthma symptoms and management: A prospective analysis of asthmatic children in Ecuador.World Allergy Organ J. 2021 Jun; 14(6):100551.WA
Asthma affects up to 33% of children in Latin American settings. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on access to and use of health services. We aimed to evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on asthma exacerbations, medical facility visits, and use of asthma medications in children.
We used data from a prospective cohort of 213 children aged 5-17 years in 3 Ecuadorian cities and analysed the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on asthma. Outcomes (asthma exacerbations, emergency room [ER] visits, planned and unplanned outpatient visits, and use of inhaled corticosteroids and Beta-2 agonists) were analysed using repeated Poisson counts (ie, number of events per participant before and during the COVID-19 lockdown).
During compared to before lockdown: a) the number of asthma exacerbations remained constant (IRR, 0.87; 95% CI: 0.72-1.05; p = 0.152); b) outpatient visits (IRR 0.26, 95% CI 0.14-0.47, p < 0.001) declined 74% while ER visits declined 89% (IRR 0.11, 95% CI 0.04-0.32, p < 0.001); and c) there was no change in inhaled corticosteroids use (IRR 1.03, 95% CI 0.90-1.16, P = 0.699) while Beta-2 agonist use increased (IRR 1.32, 95% CI 1.10-1.58, P = 0.003).
In a cohort of Ecuadorian children with asthma, health services attendance decreased dramatically after COVID-19 lockdown, but asthma exacerbations and use of inhaled corticosteroids were unchanged. Future analyses will address the question of the effect of SARS-CoV-2 infection on asthma exacerbations and control in this paediatric population.