Research identifies six groups in the population more susceptible to the impact of the pandemic

- Research

Researchers from the Experimental Tuberculosis Unit (UTE) led by Dr Cristina Vilaplana, have presented the results of the project COM-COVID, a questionnaire for the public aimed at understanding the effects of the pandemic on society. The COM-COVID is an initiative of the SMA-TB Consortium, led by the UTE and the IGTP, with the collaboration of the Sant Joan de Déu Research Institute and the Fight AIDS Foundation. Dr Maria Rosa Sarrias from the Innate Immunity Group and Dr Carol Armengol of the c-LOG research group at the IGTP have also taken part. The results have been sent in a report by email to all the participants of the questionnaire who requested it, and the research article can also be consulted at medRxiv.

The questionnaire, which is officially registered as a cross-sectional study, was distributed in 5 languages, using a snowball strategy through social media and messaging services. "We wanted to reach the maximum number of people possible, so we decided on this strategy," explains Dr Cristina Vilaplana, who also led this study.

After studying 56,656 completed questionnaires, the researchers have been able to confirm the results of previous studies on smaller studies on selected groups (elderly, young, professional groups etc) and identify as many as six populations who would benefit from intervention: women; people under 42; people caring for others, including children; people in situations of social or economic vulnerability; key workers, or unskilled workers; COVID-19 patients and health professionals, above all those working with COVID-19 patients. On the other hand, from the results of the questionnaire, those who have been able to best manage the pandemic have been those over 61, married and widowed people, those who felt well (at the time of answering the questionnaire) and in general it has had less effect on people with doctorates, higher education and qualified jobs.  

The data obtained could help to design measures adapted to our environment and not only in healthcare, but extending measures for the groups we have identified. Now the effort to generate resources has been made, so the current task is to see that they are actively implemented," Vilaplana explains. She adds that, "the results obtained could help with healthcare planning and public health policy design, to adjust containment mechanisms with a view to future outbreaks and other particularly difficult situations for society as a whole, so that we can adapt to people's real needs."

The Experimental Tuberculosis Unit is mainly dedicated to the study of tuberculosis, an infectious disease that usually affects the respiratory tract. For the last four years the group has been following a research line focused on measuring the quality of life of people in the context of infectious diseases, so that they can study people suffering from them in a more holistic and humanistic way. The group has published several studies in this field and, "in the context of the first wave of covid-19, we wanted to apply our knowledge and experience to find responses to the impact that this epidemic is having on people," concludes Vilaplana.