Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on other health issues

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had many impacts on global health beyond those caused by the COVID-19 disease itself. It has led to a reduction in hospital visits for other reasons. There have been 38 per cent fewer hospital visits for heart attack symptoms in the United States and 40 per cent fewer in Spain. [1] The head of cardiology at the University of Arizona said, "My worry is some of these people are dying at home because they're too scared to go to the hospital." [2] There is also concern that people with strokes and appendicitis are not seeking timely treatment. [2] Shortages of medical supplies have impacted people with various conditions. [3]

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In several countries there has been a marked reduction of spread of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, attributable to COVID-19 quarantines, social distancing measures, and recommendations to not engage in casual sex. [4] [5] Similarly, in some places, rates of transmission of influenza and other respiratory viruses significantly decreased during the pandemic. [6] [7] [8]

The pandemic has also negatively impacted mental health globally, including increased loneliness resulting from social distancing [9] and depression and domestic violence from lockdowns. [10] As of June 2020, 40% of U.S. adults were experiencing adverse mental health symptoms, with 11% having seriously considered trying to kill themselves in the past month. [11]

Paying attention and taking measures to prevent mental health problems and post-traumatic stress syndrome, particularly in women, is already a need. [12]

Mental health

COVID-19 increased the numbers for mental health disorders to the general public. Covid-19 mental health impact in the United States July 2020.jpg
COVID-19 increased the numbers for mental health disorders to the general public.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the mental health of people around the world. [13] Similar to the past respiratory viral epidemics, such as the SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and the influenza epidemics, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in different population groups, including the healthcare workers, general public, and the patients and quarantined individuals. [14] The Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee of the United Nations recommends that the core principles of mental health support during an emergency are "do no harm, promote human rights and equality, use participatory approaches, build on existing resources and capacities, adopt multi-layered interventions and work with integrated support systems." [15] COVID-19 is affecting people's social connectedness, their trust in people and institutions, their jobs and incomes, as well as imposing a huge toll in terms of anxiety and worry. [16]

COVID-19 also adds to the complexity of substance use disorders (SUDs) as it disproportionately affects people with SUD due to accumulated social, economic, and health inequities. [17] The health consequences of SUDs (for example, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, type 2 diabetes, immunosuppression and central nervous system depression, and psychiatric disorders) and the associated environmental challenges (e.g., housing instability, unemployment, and criminal justice involvement) increase risk for COVID-19. COVID-19 public health mitigation measures (i.e., physical distancing, quarantine and isolation) can exacerbate loneliness, mental health symptoms, withdrawal symptoms and psychological trauma. Confinement rules, unemployment and fiscal austerity measures during and following the pandemic period can affect the illicit drug market and drug use patterns.

Childhood vaccinations

UNICEF estimates that 117 million children across 37 countries may not receive their immunizations in time to prevent a measles outbreak. Pediatricians in the United States are worried about childhood vaccination rates. In April, the CDC reported that 400,000 fewer doses of measles vaccine were ordered in 2020 compared to the same time last year. [18]

Mosquito-borne diseases

Although it is highly unlikely that COVID-19 can be transmitted by mosquitoes, [19] the pandemic nevertheless has a large impact on the control of mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria or dengue fever. Reasons are disruptions in medical supply chains, patients avoiding hospitals, and halted mosquito control campaigns such as removal of breeding sites or distribution of insecticide treated bed nets. [20] [21] [22]

Health insurance

Millions of Americans lost their health insurance after losing their jobs. [23] [24] [25] [26] The Independent reported that Families USA "found that the spike in uninsured Americans – adding to an estimated 84 million people who are already uninsured or underinsured – is 39 per cent higher than any previous annual increase, including the most recent surge at the height of the recession between 2008 and 2009 when nearly 4 million non-elderly Americans lost insurance." [27]

Other resparitory diseases

Many experts fear resparitory diseases like the common cold and influenza will be more frequent than average during the 2021-2022 season. Populations have been exposed to these diseases less than unual while masks were worn and social distancing was practised. Therefore people's immune systems have not been challenged and immune responses have weakened. Any resurgence of other resparitory diseases could increase pressure on health care systems which are already under pressure due to COVID. [28]

Recommendations

UNFPA recommends that governments maintain sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) information and services, protect health workers and limit spread of COVID-19. This includes a comprehensive approach to SRHR information and services encompassing antenatal care (ANC), care during childbirth, postnatal care (PNC), contraception, safe abortion care, prevention, testing and treatment of HIV, where relevant, as well as sexually transmitted infections (STI), detection and treatment of GBV, and sexual health services and information. [29]

See also

Related Research Articles

Pandemic Global epidemic of infectious disease

A pandemic is an epidemic of an infectious disease that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple continents or worldwide, affecting a substantial number of people. A widespread endemic disease with a stable number of infected people is not a pandemic. Widespread endemic diseases with a stable number of infected people such as recurrences of seasonal influenza are generally excluded as they occur simultaneously in large regions of the globe rather than being spread worldwide.

Incubation period Time between infection and the onset of disease symptoms

Incubation period is the time elapsed between exposure to a pathogenic organism, a chemical, or radiation, and when symptoms and signs are first apparent. In a typical infectious disease, the incubation period signifies the period taken by the multiplying organism to reach a threshold necessary to produce symptoms in the host.

Globalization, the flow of information, goods, capital, and people across political and geographic boundaries, allows infectious diseases to rapidly spread around the world, while also allowing the alleviation of factors such as hunger and poverty, which are key determinants of global health. The spread of diseases across wide geographic scales has increased through history. Early diseases that spread from Asia to Europe were bubonic plague, influenza of various types, and similar infectious diseases.

Social distancing Infection control technique by keeping a distance from each other

In public health, social distancing, also called physical distancing, is a set of non-pharmaceutical interventions or measures intended to prevent the spread of a contagious disease by maintaining a physical distance between people and reducing the number of times people come into close contact with each other. It usually involves keeping a certain distance from others and avoiding gathering together in large groups.

COVID-19 pandemic Ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019

The COVID-19 pandemic, also colloquially known simply as coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The novel virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019; a lockdown in Wuhan and other cities in Hubei province failed to contain the outbreak, and it spread to other parts of mainland China and around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020, and a pandemic on 11 March 2020. Since 2021, variants of the virus have emerged and become dominant in many countries, with the Delta, Alpha and Beta variants being the most virulent. As of 24 September 2021, more than 230 million cases and 4.73 million deaths have been confirmed, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in history.

Social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic Indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching consequences beyond the spread of the disease itself and efforts to quarantine it, including political, cultural, and social implications.

COVID-19 Contagious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first known case was identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The disease has since spread worldwide, leading to an ongoing pandemic.

Neil Ferguson (epidemiologist) British epidemiologist and researcher

Neil Morris Ferguson is a British epidemiologist and professor of mathematical biology, who specialises in the patterns of spread of infectious disease in humans and animals. He is the director of the Jameel Institute for Disease and Emergency Analytics (J-IDEA), director of the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, and head of the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology in the School of Public Health and Vice-Dean for Academic Development in the Faculty of Medicine, all at Imperial College London.

The Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital is a public hospital located on Jinyintan Avenue in the Jiangjunlu Subdistrict, in the Dongxihu District of Wuhan, Hubei, China, and a unit directly under the Wuhan Municipal Health and Health Committee. Jinyintan Hospital specialises in infectious diseases. Jinyintan Hospital is one of the designated hospitals for emergency medical treatment in Hubei, including Wuhan. The hospital's president is Dr. Zhang Dingyu, a respiratory specialist. Its vice-director is Dr. Huang Chaolin.

Azra Catherine Hilary Ghani is a British epidemiologist who is a professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Imperial College London. Her research considers the mathematical modelling of infectious diseases, including malaria, bovine spongiform encephalopathy and coronavirus. She has worked with the World Health Organization on their technical strategy for malaria. She is associate director of the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis.

COVID-19 drug repurposing research Drug repurposing research related to COVID-19

Drug repositioning is the re-purposing of an approved drug for the treatment of a different disease or medical condition than that for which it was originally developed. This is one line of scientific research which is being pursued to develop safe and effective COVID-19 treatments. Other research directions include the development of a COVID-19 vaccine and convalescent plasma transfusion.

Mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic Psychological aspect of viral outbreak

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the mental health of people around the world. Similar to the past respiratory viral epidemics, such as the SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and the influenza epidemics, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in different population groups, including the healthcare workers, general public, and the patients and quarantined individuals. The Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee of the United Nations recommends that the core principles of mental health support during an emergency are "do no harm, promote human rights and equality, use participatory approaches, build on existing resources and capacities, adopt multi-layered interventions and work with integrated support systems." COVID-19 is affecting people's social connectedness, their trust in people and institutions, their jobs and incomes, as well as imposing a huge toll in terms of anxiety and worry.

Caitlin Rivers American emerging infectious disease epidemiologist

Caitlin M. Rivers is an American epidemiologist who as Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, specializing on improving epidemic preparedness. Rivers is currently working on the American response to the COVID-19 pandemic with a focus on the incorporation of infectious disease modeling and forecasting into public health decision making.

Cécile Viboud is a Staff Scientist based in the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health, where she is part of the Multinational Influenza Seasonal Mortality Study (MISMS). Viboud specialises in the mortality of infectious disease. Viboud was involved with epidemiological analysis during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Symptoms of COVID-19 Overview of the symptoms of COVID-19

Symptoms of COVID-19 are variable, ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Common symptoms include headache, loss of smell and taste, nasal congestion and runny nose, cough, muscle pain, sore throat, fever, diarrhea, and breathing difficulties. People with the same infection may have different symptoms, and their symptoms may change over time. Three common clusters of symptoms have been identified: one respiratory symptom cluster with cough, sputum, shortness of breath, and fever; a musculoskeletal symptom cluster with muscle and joint pain, headache, and fatigue; a cluster of digestive symptoms with abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. In people without prior ear, nose, and throat disorders, loss of taste combined with loss of smell is associated with COVID-19.

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare workers

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted healthcare workers physically and psychologically. Healthcare workers are more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection than the general population due to frequent contact with infected individuals. Healthcare workers have been required to work under stressful conditions without proper protective equipment, and make difficult decisions involving ethical implications. Health and social systems across the globe are struggling to cope. The situation is especially challenging in humanitarian, fragile and low-income country contexts, where health and social systems are already weak. Services to provide sexual and reproductive health care risk being sidelined, which will lead to higher maternal mortality and morbidity.

There is no specific, effective treatment or cure for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. One year into the pandemic, highly effective vaccines have now been introduced and are beginning to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2; however, for those awaiting vaccination, as well as for the estimated millions of immunocompromised persons who are unlikely to respond robustly to vaccination, treatment remain important. Thus, the lack of progress developing effective treatments means that the cornerstone of management of COVID-19 has been supportive care, which includes treatment to relieve symptoms, fluid therapy, oxygen support and prone positioning as needed, and medications or devices to support other affected vital organs.

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children Overview of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children

A systematic review notes that children with COVID-19 have milder effects and better prognoses than adults. However, children are susceptible to "multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children" (MIS-C), a rare but life-threatening systemic illness involving persistent fever and extreme inflammation following exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on African-American communities

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed health care disparities, with African-Americans experiencing the second highest current COVID-19 mortality and morbidity rates in the US—more than twice the rate of White and Asian Americans, who have the lowest current rates.

Impact of COVID-19 on neurological, psychological and other mental health outcomes

While acute symptoms of COVID-19 act on the lungs, there is increasing evidence suggesting that COVID-19 causes both acute and chronic neurologicalor psychological symptoms. Caregivers of COVID-19 patients also show a higher than average prevalence of mental health concerns. These symptoms result from multiple different factors.

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