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Low Dengue Incidence in 2020 Due to COVID-19-Related Disruption

Strongest evidence of association with reduced risk for measures related to school closures, reduced time spent in nonresidential areas

By Physician's Briefing Staff | March 16, 2022

Dengue incidence was low in 2020, which was attributable to COVID-19-related disruption, according to a study published online March 2 in The Lancet Infectious Diseases .

Yuyang Chen, Ph.D., from the College of Global Change and Earth System in Beijing, and colleagues collected data on monthly dengue incidence from World Health Organization weekly reports, climatic data, and population variables for 23 countries between January 2014 and December 2019 in order to predict seasonal and multi-year dengue cycles. Model predictions were compared with reported dengue data from January to December 2020.

The researchers found that across many dengue-endemic regions, there was a consistent, prolonged decline in dengue incidence, which began in March 2020 (2.28 million cases in 2020 versus 4.08 million in 2019; 44.1 percent decrease). There was a strong association observed for COVID-19-related disruption and reduced risk of dengue, even after accounting for other drivers of dengue cycles (relative risk, 0.01 to 0.17). The strongest evidence of association with reduced dengue risk was seen for measures related to closure of schools and reduced time spent in nonresidential areas; however, there was high collinearity between covariables. In 2020, an estimated 0.72 million fewer dengue cases occurred that were potentially attributable to COVID-19-related disruption.

"Although it remains unknown what effect these restrictions will have on dengue dynamics in the long term, the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic might give new insights into the development and targeting of new and existing interventions for dengue," the authors write.

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