In a new study, the researchers from Queen Mary University of London said that adults with asthma had, at one point, an approximately doubled risk of a severe asthma attack after Covid-19 restrictions.
They noted that episodes of progressive worsening of asthma symptoms, known as exacerbations, are the major cause of illness and death in this condition.
Published in Thorax, the study found when restrictions were lifted, fewer people wore face coverings and there was more social mixing, and subsequently a higher risk of Covid-19 and other acute respiratory infections. They also found that Covid-19 was not significantly more likely to trigger asthma attacks than other respiratory infections.
The study analysed data from 2,312 UK adults with asthma, participating in Queen Mary’s COVIDENCE UK study between November 2020 and April 2022. Details on face covering use, social mixing, and symptoms were collected through monthly online questionnaires.
Lead author and Clinical Professor of Respiratory Infection and Immunity at Queen Mary University of London Professor Adrian Martineau said: “This research shows that relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions coincided with an increased risk of severe such attacks. Our study was observational, so it can’t prove cause-and-effect. But our findings do raise the possibility that certain elements of thepublic health measures introduced during the pandemic – such as wearing facemasks – could help in reducing respiratory illnesses moving forward”.
First Author Dr Florence Tydeman noted: “It is also reassuring to see that Covid-19 was not significantly more likely to trigger asthma attacks than other respiratory infections in our study participants.”
The study is the first to compare the influence of COVID-19 versus other respiratory infections on risk of asthma exacerbations.