Practicing strict social distancing is related to a significantly lower probability, suggests a study by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in the United States, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
For their analysis, the researchers surveyed a random sample of more than 1,000 people in the state of Maryland in late June, asking about their social distancing practices, use of public transportation, history of SARS-CoV-2 infection and other COVID-19- relevant behaviors.
They found, for example, that those who reported a frequent use of public transport were more than four times more likely to have a history of positive testing for SARS-CoV-2 infection, while those who practiced strict social distancing outdoors were only one-tenth as likely to report ever having been positive for SARS-CoV-2.
The study is believed to be among the first large-scale assessments of behaviors relevant to COVID-19 that are based on survey data at the individual level, as opposed to aggregated data from sources such as cell phone apps.
‘Our findings support the idea that if you are going out, you should practice social distancing as much as possible because it seems to be strongly associated with a lower likelihood of getting infected, ”explains study lead author Sunil Solomon, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Bloomberg School and associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
“Studies like this are also relatively easy to do, so we believe they have the potential to be useful tools for identifying places or population subgroups with greater vulnerability,” he adds.
In the absence of a vaccine, public health authorities have emphasized practices such as staying home, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing in public. However, there has been no good way to control whether and among which groups are being followed.
Solomon and his colleagues, including first author Steven Clipman, a PhD candidate in the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health, were quick to access willing survey participants through a company that maintains a large pool of potential participants at the level. national as a commercial service for market research.
The 1,030 people included in the study lived in Maryland, which has recorded more than 113,000 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 and nearly 3,700 confirmed deaths, according to the Maryland Department of Health. The researchers asked survey participants about recent travel outside the home, their wearing of masks, social distancing and related practices, and any confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections, either recently or at all.
The researchers asked survey participants about recent travel outside the home, their wearing of masks, social distancing and related practices, and any confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections, either recently or at all.
Results indicated that 55 (5.3 percent) of the 1,030 participants had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection at some point, while 18 (1.7 percent) reported testing positive in the previous two weeks. to the survey. The researchers found that when considering all the variables they could assess, spending more time in public places was strongly associated with having a history of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The researchers found that when considering all the variables they could assess, spending more time in public places was strongly associated with having a history of SARS-CoV-2 infection. For example, a history of infection was approximately 4.3 times more common among participants who said they had used public transportation more than three times in the previous two weeks, compared to participants who said they had never used transportation.
A history of infection was also 16 times more common among those who reported visiting a place of worship three or more times in the previous two weeks, compared to those who reported that they had not visited any place of worship during the period. The survey did not distinguish between visiting a place of worship for a religious service or other purposes, such as a gathering, summer camp, or a meal.
In contrast, those who reported practicing social distancing outdoors “always” had only a 10 percent chance of having a history of SARS-CoV-2, compared to those who reported “never” practicing social distancing. A relatively simple initial analysis linked many other variables to a history of SARS-CoV-2 infection, including being black or Hispanic.
“We did this study in Maryland in June and it showed, among other things, that younger people in the state were less likely to reduce their risk of infection with social distancing, and a month later a large proportion of SARS infections- CoV-2 detected in Maryland was among younger people, ”explains Solomon. “Therefore,” he continues, “everything points to the possibility of using these quick and inexpensive surveys to predict where the events will occur”
“Therefore,” he continues, “everything points to the possibility of using these quick and inexpensive surveys to predict where outbreaks will occur based on behaviors and then mobilize public health resources accordingly.”