Special Issue "Risk Assessment for COVID-19"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Public Health Statistics and Risk Assessment".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2023.

Special Issue Editor

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The great coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has overwhelmed the world in 2020–2021 and will continue to have residual effects. Better understanding the public health, medical, psychological, social, and infrastructure aspects of this pandemic will help to plan for future crises and risk prevention. For this Special Issue, we seek thoughtful and well-written manuscripts that address COVID-19 from historic, current, and future perspectives, emphasizing its local and global implications. Systematic overviews, meta-analysis, retrospective and prospective risk assessments, as well as articles on both quantitative and qualitative models from diverse fields including epidemiology, public health, medicine, genetics, systems biology, informatics, data science, engineering, sociology, anthropology, nursing, environmental studies, statistics, and psychology are welcome.

Prof. Dr. Jimmy T. Efird
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • risk assessment
  • prevention
  • quantitative and qualitative models

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Article
Government Health Expenditure and Public Health Outcomes: A Comparative Study among EU Developing Countries
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(20), 10725; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph182010725 - 13 Oct 2021
Viewed by 236
Abstract
The aim of this paper was to empirically analyze the relationship between public health expenditure and health outcomes among EU developing countries. Using regression analysis and factor analysis, we documented that public health expenditure and health outcomes are in a long-run equilibrium relationship [...] Read more.
The aim of this paper was to empirically analyze the relationship between public health expenditure and health outcomes among EU developing countries. Using regression analysis and factor analysis, we documented that public health expenditure and health outcomes are in a long-run equilibrium relationship and the status of health expenditure can improve life expectancy and reduce infant mortality. Secondarily, we studied how the status of good governance, health care system performance, and socioeconomic vulnerabilities affect the public health’s outcomes in the selected countries. We found that the effectiveness of health and the way to reduce infant mortality or to improve life quality is directed conditioned by good governance status. Moreover, the consolidation of health care system performance directly improves the quality of life among EU developing countries, which indicates that public policymakers should intervene and provide political and financial support through policy mixes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Risk Assessment for COVID-19)
Article
COVID-19-Associated Mortality in US Veterans with and without SARS-CoV-2 Infection
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(16), 8486; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18168486 - 11 Aug 2021
Viewed by 656
Abstract
Background: We performed an observational Veterans Health Administration cohort analysis to assess how risk factors affect 30-day mortality in SARS-CoV-2-infected subjects relative to those uninfected. While the risk factors for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have been extensively studied, these have been seldom compared [...] Read more.
Background: We performed an observational Veterans Health Administration cohort analysis to assess how risk factors affect 30-day mortality in SARS-CoV-2-infected subjects relative to those uninfected. While the risk factors for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have been extensively studied, these have been seldom compared with uninfected referents. Methods: We analyzed 341,166 White/Black male veterans tested for SARS-CoV-2 from March 1 to September 10, 2020. The relative risk of 30-day mortality was computed for age, race, ethnicity, BMI, smoking status, and alcohol use disorder in infected and uninfected subjects separately. The difference in relative risk was then evaluated between infected and uninfected subjects. All the analyses were performed considering clinical confounders. Results: In this cohort, 7% were SARS-CoV-2-positive. Age >60 and overweight/obesity were associated with a dose-related increased mortality risk among infected patients relative to those uninfected. In contrast, relative to never smoking, current smoking was associated with a decreased mortality among infected and an increased mortality in uninfected, yielding a reduced mortality risk among infected relative to uninfected. Alcohol use disorder was also associated with decreased mortality risk in infected relative to the uninfected. Conclusions: Age, BMI, smoking, and alcohol use disorder affect 30-day mortality in SARS-CoV-2-infected subjects differently from uninfected referents. Advanced age and overweight/obesity were associated with increased mortality risk among infected men, while current smoking and alcohol use disorder were associated with lower mortality risk among infected men, when compared with those uninfected. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Risk Assessment for COVID-19)
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Article
The Global Interest in Vaccines and Its Prediction and Perspectives in the Era of COVID-19. Real-Time Surveillance Using Google Trends
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(15), 7841; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18157841 - 24 Jul 2021
Viewed by 881
Abstract
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has globally overwhelmed all sectors of life. The fast development of vaccines against COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the course of the pandemic. Methods: Global data from Google Trends was analyzed for vaccines against flu, BCG, HPV, [...] Read more.
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has globally overwhelmed all sectors of life. The fast development of vaccines against COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the course of the pandemic. Methods: Global data from Google Trends was analyzed for vaccines against flu, BCG, HPV, pneumococcal disease, polio, and COVID-19. The time frame includes the last five-year period starting from 17 April 2016. Multiple training of time series models with back testing, including Holt–Winters forecasting, Exponential Smoothing State Space, Linear model with trend and seasonal components (tlsm), and ARIMA was conducted. Forecasting according to the best fitting model was performed. Results: Correlation analysis did not reveal a decrease in interest in vaccines during the analyzed period. The prediction models provided a short-term forecast of the dynamics of interest for flu, HPV, pneumococcal and polio vaccines with 5–10% growth in interest for the first quarter of 2022 when compared to the same quarter of 2021. Conclusions: Despite the huge interest in the COVID-19 vaccine, there has not been a detectable decline in the overall interest in the five analyzed vaccines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Risk Assessment for COVID-19)
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Article
Influence of Face Masks on the Use of Contact Lenses
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(14), 7407; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18147407 - 11 Jul 2021
Viewed by 854
Abstract
Background: The COVID-19 epidemic is largely controlled by the use of face masks. The use of a face mask has been indicated as a strong cause of dry eye, although it is not yet described in the literature. This study aims to compare [...] Read more.
Background: The COVID-19 epidemic is largely controlled by the use of face masks. The use of a face mask has been indicated as a strong cause of dry eye, although it is not yet described in the literature. This study aims to compare the impact of the use of masks on the visual quality of patients. The symptoms in the human eye intensified during the pandemic versus the symptoms before the pandemic, in a Portuguese population. Methods: A fifteen-question questionnaire was conducted to find out what changes occurred in the use of soft contact lenses during the pandemic in relation to the use of masks. Statistical analysis was performed with SPSS 27.0 software (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). Results: The use of contact lenses decreased compared with before the pandemic (p < 0.001). The number of hours of wear decreased significantly compared with before the pandemic (p < 0.001). The sensation of dry eyes was found to be worse in those using monthly replacement contact lenses (p = 0.034), and the need to remove contact lenses was more frequent in women (p = 0.026) after using a mask. Conclusions: Mask use increases dry eye symptoms in contact lens wearers, negatively impacting visual quality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Risk Assessment for COVID-19)
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Article
Mental Health Crisis and Stress Coping among Healthcare College Students Momentarily Displaced from Their Campus Community Because of COVID-19 Restrictions in Japan
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(14), 7245; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18147245 - 06 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 965
Abstract
College students are one of the most affected groups by self-quarantine due to COVID-19, as they may live in loneliness and anxiety, increasing their risk of mental health crisis. This study aimed to identify risk factors for poor mental health and stress coping [...] Read more.
College students are one of the most affected groups by self-quarantine due to COVID-19, as they may live in loneliness and anxiety, increasing their risk of mental health crisis. This study aimed to identify risk factors for poor mental health and stress coping strategies among healthcare college students during the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan. A cross-sectional survey was conducted over 7 consecutive days starting on 28 April 2020 using a web-based questionnaire. The survey assessed socioeconomic characteristics and the General Health Questionnaire-12 score, self-reported health status, anxiety, and satisfaction with daily life, work, leisure, and new activities. Approximately 70% of 223 respondents had poor mental health. Less communication with friends was the main risk factor for mental health problems. Good health status and satisfaction with leisure and new activities were associated with reduced risk of mental health problems. Students with poor mental health tended to seek social support as a stress coping strategy. This study showed that the mental health of students declined during self-quarantine, and loneliness could be the major reason. There is a need for a new form of communication and learning that deals with the isolation and loneliness of students, especially for students living alone. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Risk Assessment for COVID-19)
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Article
Differences in the Protection Motivation Theory Constructs between People with Various Latent Classes of Motivation for Vaccination and Preventive Behaviors against COVID-19 in Taiwan
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(13), 7042; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18137042 - 01 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 834
Abstract
The present study aimed to identify the distinct classes of motivations to get vaccinated and to adopt preventive behaviors against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) among people in Taiwan and to examine the roles of Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) cognitive constructs in these [...] Read more.
The present study aimed to identify the distinct classes of motivations to get vaccinated and to adopt preventive behaviors against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) among people in Taiwan and to examine the roles of Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) cognitive constructs in these unique classes of motivations to get vaccinated and to adopt preventive behaviors. We recruited 1047 participants by using a Facebook advertisement. Participants’ motivations to get vaccinated and to adopt preventive behaviors against COVID-19, PMT constructs of threat appraisal (perceived severity and perceived vulnerability), and PMT constructs of coping appraisal (self-efficacy, response efficacy, response cost, knowledge, and previous vaccination for seasonal influenza) were determined. We analyzed participants’ motivations to get vaccinated and to adopt preventive behaviors against COVID-19 by using latent profile analysis. The present study identified three latent classes, including the participants with high motivation for vaccination and preventive behaviors (the class of Both High), those with low motivation for vaccination and preventive behaviors (the class of Both Low), and those with high motivation for vaccination but low motivation for preventive behaviors (the class of High Vaccination but Low Preventive Behaviors). Compared with the participants in the class of Both High, participants in the class of Both Low had lower levels of perceived vulnerability, perceived severity, self-efficacy to have vaccination, response efficacy of vaccination, knowledge about vaccination, and previous vaccination for seasonal influenza; participants in the class of High Vaccination but Low Preventive Behaviors had lower levels of perceived vulnerability and perceived severity but higher levels of response cost of vaccination. We concluded that varieties of motivations, threat, and coping appraisals should be considered in intervention programs aiming to increase motivation to adopt recommended protective behaviors against COVID-19. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Risk Assessment for COVID-19)
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Perspective
A Clinical Decision Web to Predict ICU Admission or Death for Patients Hospitalised with COVID-19 Using Machine Learning Algorithms
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(16), 8677; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18168677 - 17 Aug 2021
Viewed by 607
Abstract
The purpose of the study was to build a predictive model for estimating the risk of ICU admission or mortality among patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and provide a user-friendly tool to assist clinicians in the decision-making process. The study cohort comprised 3623 patients [...] Read more.
The purpose of the study was to build a predictive model for estimating the risk of ICU admission or mortality among patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and provide a user-friendly tool to assist clinicians in the decision-making process. The study cohort comprised 3623 patients with confirmed COVID-19 who were hospitalized in the SALUD hospital network of Aragon (Spain), which includes 23 hospitals, between February 2020 and January 2021, a period that includes several pandemic waves. Up to 165 variables were analysed, including demographics, comorbidity, chronic drugs, vital signs, and laboratory data. To build the predictive models, different techniques and machine learning (ML) algorithms were explored: multilayer perceptron, random forest, and extreme gradient boosting (XGBoost). A reduction dimensionality procedure was used to minimize the features to 20, ensuring feasible use of the tool in practice. Our model was validated both internally and externally. We also assessed its calibration and provide an analysis of the optimal cut-off points depending on the metric to be optimized. The best performing algorithm was XGBoost. The final model achieved good discrimination for the external validation set (AUC = 0.821, 95% CI 0.787–0.854) and accurate calibration (slope = 1, intercept = −0.12). A cut-off of 0.4 provides a sensitivity and specificity of 0.71 and 0.78, respectively. In conclusion, we built a risk prediction model from a large amount of data from several pandemic waves, which had good calibration and discrimination ability. We also created a user-friendly web application that can aid rapid decision-making in clinical practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Risk Assessment for COVID-19)
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Brief Report
Relationship of Test Positivity Rates with COVID-19 Epidemic Dynamics
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(9), 4655; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18094655 - 27 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1412
Abstract
Detection and isolation of infected people are believed to play an important role in the control of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some countries conduct large-scale screenings for testing, whereas others test mainly people with high prior probability of infection such as showing severe symptoms [...] Read more.
Detection and isolation of infected people are believed to play an important role in the control of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some countries conduct large-scale screenings for testing, whereas others test mainly people with high prior probability of infection such as showing severe symptoms and/or having an epidemiological link with a known or suspected case or cluster of cases. However, what a good testing strategy is and whether the difference in testing strategy shows a meaningful, measurable impact on the COVID-19 epidemic remain unknown. Here, we showed that patterns of association between effective reproduction number (Rt) and test positivity rate can illuminate differences in testing situation among different areas, using global and local data from Japan. This association can also evaluate the adequacy of current testing systems and what information is captured in COVID-19 surveillance. The differences in testing systems alone cannot predict the results of epidemic containment efforts. Furthermore, monitoring test positivity rates and severe case proportions among the nonelderly can predict imminent case count increases. Monitoring test positivity rates in conjunction with the concurrent Rt could be useful to assess and strengthen public health management and testing systems and deepen understanding of COVID-19 epidemic dynamics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Risk Assessment for COVID-19)
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