To understand the effect of social distancing, mask wearing and shielding on community acquired pneumonia.
Measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19 such as social distancing, mask wearing and shielding for vulnerable groups are likely to have reduced transmission of non-Covid-19 respiratory infections.
Prior to March 2020, one of the leading causes of admission to hospital was pneumonia (not caused by Covid-19). Pneumonia is a serious lung infection which predominantly affects older adults with multiple medical problems – a group of individuals who have been largely advised to reduce social contacts and shield where possible. Pneumonia can be caused by either bacteria or viral infections, and it is likely that measures taken to protect from Covid-19 infections would also protect from other respiratory infections, including those which cause pneumonia.
Over the last year there seems to have been a decrease in people admitted to hospital with non-Covid-19 pneumonia and it is unclear if this also translates to a reduction in mortality from non-Covid-19 pneumonia.
The researchers plan to compare admission rates and outcomes for two time periods – winter 2019/20 and winter 2020/21 – to see if Covid-19 has changed the profile of admissions, and whether outcomes such as complication rates, length of hospital admission or mortality have changed.
This data will help to understand the ways in which Covid-19 has impacted healthcare and outcomes for all patients, not just those who have experienced Covid-19 infection.
In the future this may impact how healthcare is organised and delivered in the event of pandemic infections and may inform how we advise patients to seek healthcare during periods of strain for the NHS.
Researchers consulted CAP survivors and their carers as part of the Breath Easy groups in Coventry and Solihull and there was significant support for research to understand the burden and outcomes of pneumonia during the Covid-19 pandemic and find better ways to assess risk of admission (or admission avoidance) in this group.
This project was supported unanimously by the PIONEER Data Trust Committee.
Dr Frances Grudzinska, University of Birmingham