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Project #146:
Scarlet fever and invasive group A strep cases during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Type: Service evaluation
  • Topic areas: Other/indirect impacts of COVID on health/healthcare

During the pandemic there has been a substantial change to the pattern of circulating viruses and bacteria that cause illnesses [ref https://bjgp.org/content/72/714/e63, https://www.opensafely.org/approved-projects/#project-108, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ukhsa-update-on-scarlet-fever-and-invasive-group-a-strep-1]. In order to support ongoing response and recovery of NHS service from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is useful to have detailed information on patterns of disease being reported by the NHS and treatments such as antibiotics.

In the winter of 22/23 UKHSA (December 8th) reported an unseasonal increase of scarlet fever and group A strep infections. Sadly, between 19th September 2022 and 1st January 2023 there have been 151 deaths across all age groups, including 29 children under 18 in England. UKHSA indicates that the increase is likely to reflect increased susceptibility to these infections in children due to low numbers of cases during the COVID-19 pandemic, along with current circulation of respiratory viruses.

We would like to use OpenSAFELY (traditional code based and interactive) to analyse presentations to NHS services, recording of symptoms and diagnostic tests in peoples NHS records as well as any treatments, such as antibiotics. We will evaluate data in the years preceding the pandemic up until the latest available data.

Our expected outputs will be charts, blogs and academic papers describing our findings.