DPhil student David Shaw finds that COVID-19 measures reduced life-threatening infections
Exeter student and Peter Thompson Graduate Scholar David Shaw (2019, DPhil Population Health) recently contributed to a new, influential study in The Lancet Digital Health that shows that containment measures introduced in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the transmission of bacterial infection. The paper was published by the Invasive Respiratory Infection Surveillance (IRIS) Consortium, which was established to assess the impact of the pandemic on invasive diseases, and Shaw served as the lead author. Since its publication in August, the Lancet article has been featured by a number of news outlets, including the front page of the University’s online news site.
The study analysed the incidence of invasive bacterial disease caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Neisseria meningitidis and Streptococcus agalactiae two years before (2018–2019) and during (2020–2021) the pandemic in thirty countries. Each country’s COVID-19 containment measures was quantified with the Oxford Blavatnik COVID-19 Government Response Tracker. The study found that the number of S pneumoniae, H influenzae, and N meningitidis cases during 2020–21 was approximately half the expected number each year compared to pre-pandemic totals. As well, During the pandemic there was a significantly reduced risk of invasive disease caused by S pneumoniae, H influenzae and N meningitidis. There was no significant change in the risk of invasive disease caused by S agalactiae.
David Shaw said, “As the IRIS Consortium matures, we will be able to address important questions beyond those related to the pandemic and our findings will hopefully contribute to improved diagnostic, preventative and therapeutic approaches in the future.”