Patients have stayed at home for a year and suffered dramatically fewer asthma attacks

Saturday, July 17th, 2021

Doctors have spent the pandemic wondering why their patients with asthma were suddenly doing so well:

Asthma attacks have plummeted. Pediatric ICUs have sat strangely empty. “We braced ourselves for significant problems for the millions of people living with asthma,” says David Stukus, Scarlett’s doctor at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “It was the complete opposite. It’s amazing.” (Fears about people with asthma getting more severe COVID-19 infections haven’t been borne out either.) Studies in other countries, including England, Scotland, and South Korea, also found big drops in hospital and doctor’s-office visits for asthma attacks.

The massive global experiment that is the pandemic is now leading doctors to rethink some long-held assumptions about the disease. Asthma is a chronic condition that occasionally flares up, leading to 3,500 deaths and 1.6 million emergency-room visits a year in the United States. These acute attacks can be triggered by a number of environmental factors: viruses, pollen, mold, dust mites, rodents, cockroaches, pet dander, smoke, air pollution, etc. Doctors have often scrutinized allergens that patients can control at home, such as pests and secondhand smoke. But patients have stayed at home for a year and suffered dramatically fewer asthma attacks — suggesting bigger roles for other triggers, especially routine cold and flu viruses, which nearly vanished this year with social distancing and masks.


  1. Gavin Longmuir says:

    Various reports in the media have seeped through — fewer calls for ambulances, people with heart attacks refusing to go to the Emergency Room, etc. Project Fear associated with the CovidScam may have had an effect on the usual 1.6 Million/year asthma-related ER visits.

    Similarly, a few reports have seeped through about traffic accident victims who tested positive for Covid-19 having their deaths classified as Covid rather than trauma. How much of the reduction in asthma cases is due to re-classification?

    The problem created by Project Fear is that now there are reasonable doubts about the significance of any numbers coming from official sources. For example, why would flu vanish — when the social distancing and masks etc did not stop transmission of the equally small Covid virus?

  2. Bill Jones says:

    In the UK the plague cured cancer. 40,000 fewer cancer diagnoses in 2020 than ’19.

  3. Isegoria says:

    A key point of the original article is that they were able to collect data unaffected by the shutdown:

    The most compelling evidence that asthma attacks truly did go down during the pandemic exists because of a stroke of good luck. Back in 2018, Elliot Israel, a pulmonologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, began asking Black and Hispanic or Latino adults with asthma to track their attacks at home for a study called PREPARE. (These groups have disproportionate rates of severe asthma, compared with white patients.) Israel intended to compare two different ways of using long-term asthma medication, such as inhaled steroids. His team enrolled its last participant—patient No. 1,201—in March 2020. The COVID-19 shutdowns began a week later.

    “We were very lucky,” Israel told me. Because of the study’s timing, his team had plenty of data from before the pandemic. And because the participants were filling out monthly questionnaires from home, the shutdowns did not affect the data collection.

  4. JK/AR says:

    First time commenting here though I’ve read for quite some time. As to the what prompted me, well…

    I’ve a letter in my med-recs (a copy of which is in my VA records as well) typed up by my Dad who was then doing an MD residency at Great Lakes Naval Station in 1959 — the letter’s purpose being to a request for transfer someplace “in a warm dry climate…. [Since] arriving in the Great Lakes area my son has had four different episodes of bronchopneumonia complicated by…”

    I am that son. Early on got a diagnosis of asthma but presently added to that COPD and emphysema — VA’s got me listed 100% disabled. Not bitching, I still enjoy a full life.

    But onward — this video (from Whiteboard Doctor) speaks to your subject — and which has been similar to my personal experience.

    A reasonably brief mere sixteen minutes.

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