Introduction: An excess in the daily fluctuation of COVID-19 in hospital admissions could cause uncertainty and delays in the implementation of care interventions. This study aims to characterize a possible source of extravariability in the number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 by considering age at admission as a potential explanatory factor. Age at hospitalization provides a clear idea of the epidemiological impact of the disease, as the elderly population is more at risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes. Administrative data for the Veneto region, Northern Italy from February 1, 2020, to November 20, 2021, were considered. Methods: An inferential approach based on quasi-likelihood estimates through the generalized estimation equation (GEE) Poisson link function was used to quantify the overdispersion. The daily variation in the number of hospitalizations in the Veneto region that lagged at 3, 7, 10, and 15 days was associated with the number of news items retrieved from Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT) regarding containment interventions to determine whether the magnitude of the past variation in daily hospitalizations could impact the number of preventive policies. Results: This study demonstrated a significant increase in the pattern of hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Veneto beginning in December 2020. Age at admission affected the excess variability in the number of admissions. This effect increased as age increased. Specifically, the dispersion was significantly lower in people under 30 years of age. From an epidemiological point of view, controlling the overdispersion of hospitalizations and the variables characterizing this phenomenon is crucial. In this context, the policies should prevent the spread of the virus in particular in the elderly, as the uncontrolled diffusion in this age group would result in an extra variability in daily hospitalizations. Discussion: This study demonstrated that the overdispersion, together with the increase in hospitalizations, results in a lagged inflation of the containment policies. However, all these interventions represent strategies designed to contain a mechanism that has already been triggered. Further efforts should be directed toward preventive policies aimed at protecting the most fragile subjects, such as the elderly. Therefore, it is essential to implement containment strategies before the occurrence of potentially out-of-control situations, resulting in congestion in hospitals and health services.

COVID-19 hospitalizations and patients' age at admission: The neglected importance of data variability for containment policies

Azzolina D.;Comoretto R.;Berchialla P.;
2022

Abstract

Introduction: An excess in the daily fluctuation of COVID-19 in hospital admissions could cause uncertainty and delays in the implementation of care interventions. This study aims to characterize a possible source of extravariability in the number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 by considering age at admission as a potential explanatory factor. Age at hospitalization provides a clear idea of the epidemiological impact of the disease, as the elderly population is more at risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes. Administrative data for the Veneto region, Northern Italy from February 1, 2020, to November 20, 2021, were considered. Methods: An inferential approach based on quasi-likelihood estimates through the generalized estimation equation (GEE) Poisson link function was used to quantify the overdispersion. The daily variation in the number of hospitalizations in the Veneto region that lagged at 3, 7, 10, and 15 days was associated with the number of news items retrieved from Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT) regarding containment interventions to determine whether the magnitude of the past variation in daily hospitalizations could impact the number of preventive policies. Results: This study demonstrated a significant increase in the pattern of hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Veneto beginning in December 2020. Age at admission affected the excess variability in the number of admissions. This effect increased as age increased. Specifically, the dispersion was significantly lower in people under 30 years of age. From an epidemiological point of view, controlling the overdispersion of hospitalizations and the variables characterizing this phenomenon is crucial. In this context, the policies should prevent the spread of the virus in particular in the elderly, as the uncontrolled diffusion in this age group would result in an extra variability in daily hospitalizations. Discussion: This study demonstrated that the overdispersion, together with the increase in hospitalizations, results in a lagged inflation of the containment policies. However, all these interventions represent strategies designed to contain a mechanism that has already been triggered. Further efforts should be directed toward preventive policies aimed at protecting the most fragile subjects, such as the elderly. Therefore, it is essential to implement containment strategies before the occurrence of potentially out-of-control situations, resulting in congestion in hospitals and health services.
2022
Azzolina, D.; Comoretto, R.; Lanera, C.; Berchialla, P.; Baldi, I.; Gregori, D.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11392/2500537
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