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Social distancing led to a reduced number of exacerbations in bronchiectasis patients

NLC 2022

Social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the exacerbation risk in bronchiectasis patients. However, the daily symptoms commonly experienced by these patients, including chronic cough and sputum production, were not substantially reduced. In addition, patients did not perceive increased anxiousness as a result of social distancing.

The COVID-19 pandemic highly influenced the lives of everyone, and in particular of patients with chronic pulmonary disease. In a nationwide observational study in Denmark, social distancing, which was introduced to curb the spread of COVID-19, substantially reduced the risk of severe exacerbations, intensive care admissions, and all-cause mortality in COPD patients [1]. Social distancing was also shown to decrease hospital admissions for exacerbations due to common respiratory virus infections in this patient population [2]. Despite these beneficial effects of social distancing, the downside was that many patients experienced an increased sense of loneliness due to the imposed measures [3]. If this was the case for COPD patients, what would the effect of the pandemic and its measures be in patients with bronchiectasis?

Vestergård et al. conducted a study in 306 Danish patients using the Bronchiectasis Health Questionnaire, which consists of 10 questions. The median age of the participants was 68 years and 68% of participants were women. The period covered by the study was divided into 5 segments: December 2020-February 2021, March-May 2021, June-August 2021, September-November 2021, December 2021-February 2022, and March-May 2022.

The mean number of exacerbations declined from December 2020 to February 2021 to rise again in the period between September and November 2021, increasing until May 2022. Differences in the number of antibiotic courses used for the past 12 months – with December 2020–February 2021 being the reference group – showed a higher number of antibiotic courses used in September-November 2021 and December 2021-February 2022 (2.502 and 4.695, respectively). Regarding the daily symptoms (coughing bouts and sputum production), no significant differences have been observed across the various periods. Furthermore, in this study population, no correlation was found between social distancing and the sense of anxiousness [4].

  1. Saeed MI, et al. Epidemiol. 2022;191(5):874–885.
  2. Tan JY, et al. Thorax. 2021;76(5):512–513.
  3. Kusk KH, et al. COPD. 2021;18(5):549–556.
  4. Vestergård C. Exacerbations in bronchiectasis during and after COVID-19 lock-down. Nordic Lung Congress 2022, 01–03 June, Copenhagen, Denmark.


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