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PLoS One . Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions targeted at the COVID-19 pandemic on the incidence of influenza-like illness in the UK Armed Forces

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  • PLoS One . Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions targeted at the COVID-19 pandemic on the incidence of influenza-like illness in the UK Armed Forces


    PLoS One


    . 2022 Dec 1;17(12):e0270438.
    doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0270438. eCollection 2022.
    Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions targeted at the COVID-19 pandemic on the incidence of influenza-like illness in the UK Armed Forces


    George Otieno 1 2 , Ngwa Niba Rawlings 1 3



    AffiliationsFree article

    Abstract

    Introduction: Non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) such as lockdown, social distancing and use of face coverings was adopted by the United Kingdom (UK) Armed Forces (AF) during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study assessed the impact of the use of NPIs on the incidence of influenza-like illness (ILI) in the UK AF.
    Methods: A longitudinal study design was adopted, and secondary data was analysed retrospectively. Clinical Read codes for ILI was used to generate data for flu seasons before and during the COVID-19 pandemic (September 2017 to April 2021).
    Results: Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of reporting ILI was ~ 4% across all flu seasons. The count of ILI was 2.9%, 2.2% and 3.1% during 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 flu seasons respectively. During the COVID-19 pandemic, both the rate of reporting ILI (0.6%) and the count of ILI (0.5%) were significantly smaller (p < .001). The rate of reporting ILI was positively correlated with the count of ILI (r (2) = .97, p = .014). Influenza vaccination rate increased by 1.3% during the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccination rate was negatively correlated with the rate of reporting ILI (r (2) = -.52, p = 0.24) and the count of ILI (r (2) = -.61, p = 0.19). However, this correlation was not significant. The use of NPIs was negatively correlated with the rate of reporting ILI (r (2) = -.99, p = < .001) and the count of ILI (r (2) = -.95, p = 0.026). The overall multiple regression performed was statistically significant (R2 = 0.94, F (1, 2) = 33.628, p = 0.028). The rate of reporting ILI significantly predicted the count of ILI (β = 0.609, p = 0.028) while vaccination rate did not significantly predict the count of ILI (β = -0.136, p = 0.677).
    Conclusions: The incidence of ILI in the UK AF was significantly reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The use of NPIs and the rate of reporting ILI significantly reduced the count of ILI. Being vaccinated for influenza did not significantly reduce the count of ILI.


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