The direct disease burden of COVID-19 in Belgium in 2020 and 2021

Devleesschauwer, B. et al. (2023) The direct disease burden of COVID-19 in Belgium in 2020 and 2021. BMC Public Health, 23(1), 1707. (doi: 10.1186/s12889-023-16572-0) (PMID:37667264) (PMCID:PMC10476343)

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Background: Burden of disease estimates have become important population health metrics over the past decade to measure losses in health. In Belgium, the disease burden caused by COVID-19 has not yet been estimated, although COVID-19 has emerged as one of the most important diseases. Therefore, the current study aims to estimate the direct COVID-19 burden in Belgium, observed despite policy interventions, during 2020 and 2021, and compare it to the burden from other causes. Methods: Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) are the sum of Years Lived with Disability (YLDs) and Years of Life Lost (YLLs) due to disease. DALYs allow comparing the burden of disease between countries, diseases, and over time. We used the European Burden of Disease Network consensus disease model for COVID-19 to estimate DALYs related to COVID-19. Estimates of person-years for (a) acute non-fatal disease states were calculated from a compartmental model, using Belgian seroprevalence, social contact, hospital, and intensive care admission data, (b) deaths were sourced from the national COVID-19 mortality surveillance, and (c) chronic post-acute disease states were derived from a Belgian cohort study. Results: In 2020, the total number of COVID-19 related DALYs was estimated at 253,577 [252,541 − 254,739], which is higher than in 2021, when it was 139,281 [136,704 − 142,306]. The observed COVID-19 burden was largely borne by the elderly, and over 90% of the burden was attributable to premature mortality (i.e., YLLs). In younger people, morbidity (i.e., YLD) contributed relatively more to the DALYs, especially in 2021, when vaccination was rolled out. Morbidity was mainly attributable to long-lasting post-acute symptoms. Conclusion: COVID-19 had a substantial impact on population health in Belgium, especially in 2020, when COVID-19 would have been the main cause of disease burden if all other causes had maintained their 2019 level.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This study received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme - project EpiPose (Grant Agreement Number 101003688)
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wyper, Dr Grant
Authors: Devleesschauwer, B., Willem, L., Jurčević, J., Smith, P., Scohy, A., Wyper, G. M.A., Pires, S. M., Van Goethem, N., Beutels, P., Franco, N., Abrams, S., Van Cauteren, D., Speybroeck, N., Hens, N., and De Pauw, R.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Public Health
Journal Name:BMC Public Health
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN (Online):1471-2458
Published Online:04 September 2023
Copyright Holders:Copyright © The Author(s) 2023
First Published:First published in BMC Public Health 23(1):1707
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

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