Background: The practice of allergology varies widely between countries, and the costs and sales for the treatment of rhinitis differ depending on practices and health systems. To understand these differences and their implications, the rhinitis market was studied in some of the EU countries. Methods: We conducted a pharmaco-epidemiological database analysis to assess the medications that were prescribed for allergic rhinitis in the years 2016, 2017 and 2018. We used the IQVIA platforms for prescribed medicines (MIDAS® - Meaningful Integration of Data, Analytics and Services) and for OTC medicines (OTC International Market Tracking - OTCims). We selected the five most important markets in the EU (France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain). The UK was excluded due to a lack of data. Results: Intra-nasal decongestants were excluded from the analyses because they are not prescribed for allergic rhinitis. For both Standard Units (SU) and costs, France is leading the other countries. In terms of SU, the four other countries are similar. For costs, Poland is lower than the three others. However, medication use differs largely. For 2018, in SU, intra-nasal corticosteroid is the first treatment in Poland (70.0%), France (51.3%), Spain (51.1%) and Germany (50.3%) whereas the Italian market is dominated by systemic anti-histamines (41.4%) followed by intra-nasal corticosteroids (30.1%). Results of other years were similar. Discussion: There are major differences between countries in terms of rhino-conjunctivitis medication usage.
Large differences in COVID-19 death rates exist between countries and between regions of the same country. Some very low death rate countries such as Eastern Asia, Central Europe or the Balkans have a common feature of eating large quantities of fermented foods. Although biases exist when examining ecological studies, fermented vegetables or cabbage were associated with low death rates in European countries. SARS-CoV-2 binds to its receptor, the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). As a result of SARS-Cov-2 binding, ACE2 downregulation enhances the angiotensin II receptor type 1 (AT1R) axis associated with oxidative stress. This leads to insulin resistance, lung and endothelial damage, two severe outcomes of COVID-19. The nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2) is the most potent antioxidant in humans and can block the AT1R axis. Cabbage contains precursors of sulforaphane, the most active natural activator of Nrf2. Fermented vegetables contain many lactobacilli, which are also potent Nrf2 activators. It is proposed that fermented cabbage is a proof-of-concept of dietary manipulations that may enhance Nrf2-associated antioxidant effects helpful in mitigating COVID-19 severity.
To the Editor, The fermentation process, born as a preservation method in the Neolithic age, enabled humans to eat not-so-fresh food and to survive.1 Fermented foods are “foods or beverages made via controlled microbial growth (including lactic acid bacteria (LAB)) and enzymatic conversions of food components.” 2 Not all fermented foods contain live cultures, as some undergo further processing after fermentation: pasteurization, smoking, baking, or filtration. These processes kill or remove the live microorganisms in foods such as soy sauces, bread, most beers and wines as well as chocolate. Live cultures can be found in fermented vegetables and fermented milk (fermented sour milk, yoghurt, probiotics, …). The westernized diet is lacking many traditional fermented foods.3The gut microbiota has an inter-individual variability due to genetic predisposition and diet 3. Some foods like cabbage can be fermented by the gut microbiota. 4 The westernized diet has been associated with changes in the gut microbiome.5In this Rostrum, we consider loss of food fermentation either as a reduction of fermented food consumption in the diet or as a change in the microbiome leading to a reduction of fermentation of foods in the gut. This paper is based on the hypothesis that diet may partly explain differences in COVID-19 death rates within and between countries.6
To the Editor, A COVID-19 epidemic started in China and then disseminated to other Asian countries before becoming a pandemic. It appears that the pandemic has so far resulted in proportionately fewer deaths in China and most Eastern Asian countries. Many reasons can explain this picture.1 One of them is the type of diet in the low mortality countries. 2This paper is the sixth of a series attempting to understand the role of diet in the differences of COVID-19 death rates between and within countries with the aim to identify potential preventive measures against COVID-19. The concept paper 2 was followed by two ecological studies comparing death rates in European countries and the consumption of vegetables or fermented foods. 3,4 We then proposed that sulforaphane from cruciferous vegetables1 and lactobacilli from fermented foods (submitted) were possibly involved in the reduction of insulin resistance in COVID-19.It is noteworthy that fermented foods are largely used in Asia.5,6 It is therefore important to check whether some commonly eaten fermented foods in these countries may explain geographic differences in COVID-19. Kimchi will be used as a model of fermented cabbage.
To the Editor, Sulforaphane [1-isothiocyanato-4-(methylsulfinyl)butane] is a clinically relevant nutraceutical compound present in cruciferous vegetables (Brassicaceae). It is used for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases and may be involved in ageing.1Along with other natural nutrients, sulforaphane has been suggested to have a therapeutic value for the treatment of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).2 Sulforaphane is an isothiocyanate stored in its inactive form glucoraphanin.3 The enzyme myrosinase, found in plant tissue and in the gut microbiome, is involved in the conversion of glucoraphanin to its active form sulforaphane.4
To the Editor,We read carefully the research letter “Is asthma protective of COVID-19?” by Carli et al recently published.1Important topic for asthma patients in the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic were considered, including that until recently weak evidence that patients with chronic respiratory disorders are at a lower risk of being infected or becoming severely ill with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).Reflecting only about previous reports from China and Italy where asthma was underrepresented in COVID-19 patients, the authors accept the heterogeneous condition that it is asthma, speculating that T2-immunity, interferon-mediated immune responses and increased number of eosinophils in the airways could have a protective effect against COVID-19 severity.1The epidemiology of COVID-19 is changing rapidly with new data. More recent reports from the United States of America and from several European countries, in particular the United Kingdom (UK), states a higher asthma prevalence in patients with COVID-19, suggesting that asthma is more common in COVID-19 patients than it was previously reported in Asia and in the first European surveys.2Data from the UK Biobank, a large prospective case-control study, found an asthma prevalence of 17,9% in 605 COVID-19 hospitalized patients, mostly of them adults, surpassing the prevalence of asthma in the general population.3Besides that, in the OpenSAFELY Collaborative Study (UK), it was found a significant increased risk of severe CoViD-19 in patients with asthma, including death, in particular related with the recent use of oral corticosteroid (OCS).4 These findings can indicate an increased asthma severity and/or poor control and, in accordance with data from previous coronavirus outbreaks, that systemic corticosteroids were associated with a higher viral load.5We agree with Carli et al1 that further studies focused on asthma and its different phenotypes are needed to provide a better understanding of the impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection in patients with asthma.6 Nevertheless, for the moment, it seems crucial that patients with asthma do not stop their controller medication, that may lead to a higher risk of asthma exacerbations, increased OCS use and higher probability to emergency room access and hospitalization that represent themselves significant risk factors for coronavirus exposure and spread.In conclusion, according with the available data, patients with asthma must still be included in the high-risk groups for COVID-19 and more data are needed to understand the relationship between asthma and COVID-19.
In December 2019, China reported the first cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This disease, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has developed into a pandemic. To date it has resulted in ~5.6 million confirmed cases and caused 353,334 related deaths worldwide. Unequivocally, the COVID-19 pandemic is the gravest health and socio-economic crisis of our time. In this context, numerous questions have emerged in demand of basic scientific information and evidence-based medical advice on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. Although the majority of the patients show a very mild, self-limiting viral respiratory disease, many clinical manifestations in severe patients are unique to COVID-19, such as severe lymphopenia and eosinopenia, extensive pneumonia, a “cytokine storm” leading to acute respiratory distress syndrome, endothelitis, thrombo-embolic complications and multiorgan failure. The epidemiologic features of COVID-19 are distinctive and have changed throughout the pandemic. Vaccine and drug development studies and clinical trials are rapidly growing at an unprecedented speed. However, basic and clinical research on COVID-19-related topics should be based on more coordinated high-quality studies. This paper answers pressing questions, formulated by young clinicians and scientists, on SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 and allergy, focusing on the following topics: virology, immunology, diagnosis, management of patients with allergic disease and asthma, treatment, clinical trials, drug discovery, vaccine development and epidemiology. Over 140 questions were answered by experts in the field providing a comprehensive and practical overview of COVID-19 and allergic disease.
Even though respiratory viruses are one of the most common triggers for asthma exacerbations, not all of these viruses affect patients equally. There is no strong evidence supporting that patients with asthma have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), although recent reports from the United States of America and the United Kingdom suggest that asthma is much more common in children and adults with mild to severe COVID-19 than it was previously reported in Asia and in Europe. As in previous severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreaks, patients with asthma, especially children, appear to be less susceptible to the coronavirus with a low rate of asthma exacerbations. Different expression of viral receptors and T2 inflammation can be responsible for different outcomes. Future studies focused on asthma and on other allergic disorders are needed to provide greater understanding of the impact of underlying asthma and allergic inflammation on COVID-19 susceptibility and disease severity. But, for the moment, it’s crucial that asthmatic patients maintain their controller medication, from inhaled corticosteroids to biologics, without self-making any dose adjustments or stopping medication. New data are emerging daily, rapidly updating our understanding of this novel coronavirus.
Allergic Rhinitis (AR) is a high burden chronic respiratory disease(1-4) affecting 19% of Australians; 29% in the Australian Capital Territory(ACT), Australia. Up to 70% of people with AR self-select their medication in Australian pharmacies; with only 15% selecting optimal medication(6). The Allergic Rhinitis Clinical Management Pathway(AR-CMaP) was developed as an evidence-based AR management guide to support pharmacists to optimise AR management in the pharmacy. This paper describes the method used to investigate the implementation of AR-CMaP by evaluating the impact of AR-CMaP on AR medication management and pharmacists’ practice and identifying the challenges associated with implementing AR-CMaP. This study took a mixed methods approach. The AR-CMaP was implemented and evaluated in a cohort of pharmacies in the ACT. Prior to the implementation of AR-CMaP, baseline data were collected in the pharmacy; pharmacists completed a needs assessment and a researcher administered questionnaires to people who purchased an AR-related product. The completed needs assessments individualised the AR-CMaP training and support tools provided to each participating pharmacy. Following pharmacists training, the AR-CMaP was implemented, pharmacists completed a second needs assessment and the questionnaire to people with AR were re-administered. Pharmacists were interviewed after all data collection was completed. There is an urgent need to evaluate the AR management services in community pharmacies. This study is the first to implement and evaluate an evidence-based clinical pathway in the pharmacy setting, in real life. Important insights into the practical aspects of AR management and clinical frameworks in the community pharmacy will be identified.