Study shows beneficial impact of lockdown measures for IPF patients in Greece

A summary of research published in the European Respiratory Journal 

There were a lower than expected number of cases of COVID-19 among people living with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in Greece, according to a new study. The researchers believe that the early lockdown measures in Greece could have helped to prevent more severe cases of COVID-19 and reduce the total number of cases in this group of people.

What did the study look at?

This research letter describes the number of cases of COVID-19 in people with IPF from 13 specialist centres. It uses information from 26 February 2020, when the first COVID-19 case was detected in Greece, until May 2020, when authorities started to lift restrictions after a strict lockdown.

550 people with IPF were included in the study. Researchers collected information on each patient, looking at the treatment they were taking, whether they developed COVID-19 during the study, and whether they were hospitalised. They also collected information from the year before about whether people with IPF were hospitalised, and the medicines they took.

What do the results show?

Only two people included in the study developed COVID-19 and both survived. During this time period, 2,623 cases of COVID-19 were reported in the general population in Greece with 146 deaths reported.

When researchers compared the data from the lockdown to the same time period the previous year, there was a decrease in the number of hospital admissions, the number of infections needing treatment in hospital, and the number of deaths in hospital among people with IPF.

Why is this important?

During the strict lockdown, people with IPF experienced much lower than expected infection rates for COVID-19. The number of hospitalisations and deaths among people with IPF also went down when compared to the same time the year before.

These results are similar to other reports about groups of people living with long-term conditions. Research is beginning to show a large reduction in the number of people being admitted to hospital during the lockdown period. The authors believe that while full lockdowns would not be practical, simple measures for the winter months such as face coverings, increased hand washing and physical distancing, could be beneficial for people living with IPF.

Read the original research paper:

Title: Early COVID-19 Lockdown in Greece and IPF: A beneficial “impact” beyond any expectation