ABSTRACT Background: Essential workers have been shown to present a higher prevalence of positive screenings for anxiety and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals from countries with socioeconomic inequalities may be at increased risk for mental health disorders. Objective: We aimed to assess the prevalence and predictors of depression, anxiety, and their comorbidity among essential workers in Brazil and Spain during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: A web survey was conducted between April and May 2020 in both countries. The main outcome was a positive screening for depression only, anxiety only, or both. Lifestyle was measured using a lifestyle multidimensional scale adapted for the COVID-19 pandemic (Short Multidimensional Inventory Lifestyle Evaluation–Confinement). A multinomial logistic regression model was performed to evaluate the factors associated with depression, anxiety, and the presence of both conditions. Results: From the 22,786 individuals included in the web survey, 3745 self-reported to be essential workers. Overall, 8.3% (n=311), 11.6% (n=434), and 27.4% (n=1027) presented positive screenings for depression, anxiety, and both, respectively. After adjusting for confounding factors, the multinomial model showed that an unhealthy lifestyle increased the likelihood of depression (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 4.00, 95% CI 2.72-5.87), anxiety (AOR 2.39, 95% CI 1.80-3.20), and both anxiety and depression (AOR 8.30, 95% CI 5.90-11.7). Living in Brazil was associated with increased odds of depression (AOR 2.89, 95% CI 2.07-4.06), anxiety (AOR 2.81, 95%CI 2.11-3.74), and both conditions (AOR 5.99, 95% CI 4.53-7.91). Conclusions: Interventions addressing lifestyle may be useful in dealing with symptoms of common mental disorders during the strain imposed among essential workers by the COVID-19 pandemic. Essential workers who live in middle-income countries with higher rates of inequality may face additional challenges. Ensuring equitable treatment and support may be an important challenge ahead, considering the possible syndemic effect of the social determinants of health.

14th December 2020 • comment

Confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic can influence dietary profiles, especially those of adolescents, who are highly susceptible to acquiring bad eating habits. Adolescents’ poor dietary habits increase their subsequent risk of degenerative diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular pathologies, etc. Our aim was to study nutritional modifications during COVID-19 confinement in adolescents aged 10 to 19 years, compare them with their usual diet and dietary guidelines, and identify variables that may have influenced changes. Data were collected by an anonymous online questionnaire on food intake among 820 adolescents from Spain, Italy, Brazil, Colombia, and Chile. The results show that COVID-19 confinement did influence their dietary habits. In particular, we recorded modified consumption of fried food, sweet food, legumes, vegetables, and fruits. Moreover, gender, family members at home, watching TV during mealtime, country of residence, and maternal education were diversely correlated with adequate nutrition during COVID-19 confinement. Understanding the adolescents’ nutrition behavior during COVID-19 lockdown will help public health authorities reshape future policies on their nutritional recommendations, in preparation for future pandemics.

14th December 2020 • comment

Psycho-Neuroendocrine-Immune Interactions in COVID-19: Potential Impacts on Mental Health

by Ícaro Raony, Camila Saggioro de Figueiredo, Pablo Pandolfo, Elizabeth Giestal-de-Araujo, Priscilla Oliveira-Silva Bomfim, Wilson Savino

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The impacts of the disease may be beyond the respiratory system, also affecting mental health. Several factors may be involved in the association between COVID-19 and psychiatric outcomes, such as fear inherent in the pandemic, adverse effects of treatments, as well as financial stress, and social isolation. Herein we discuss the growing evidence suggesting that the relationship between SARS-CoV-2 and host may also trigger changes in brain and behavior. Based on the similarity of SARS-CoV-2 with other coronaviruses, it is conceivable that changes in endocrine and immune response in the periphery or in the central nervous system may be involved in the association between SARS-CoV-2 infection and impaired mental health. This is likely to be further enhanced, since millions of people worldwide are isolated in quarantine to minimize the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and social isolation can also lead to neuroendocrine-immune changes. Accordingly, we highlight here the hypothesis that neuroendocrine-immune interactions may be involved in negative impacts of SARS-CoV-2 infection and social isolation on psychiatric issues.

4th July 2020 • comment

The COVID‐19 epidemic through a gender lens: what if a gender approach had been applied to inform public health measures to fight the COVID‐19 pandemic?

by Cristina Enguita‐Fernàndez, Elena Marbán-Castro, Olivia Manders, Lauren Maxwell, Gustavo Correa Matta
14th June 2020 • comment

Personal data usage and privacy considerations in the COVID-19 global pandemic

by Bethania Almeida, Danilo Doneda, Maria Yury Ichihara, Manoel Barral-Netto, Gustavo Correa Matta, Elaine Teixeira Rabello, Fabio Castro Gouveia, Mauricio Barreto

Data is becoming ever more critical and valuable for both scientists and health authorities searching for answers to the COVID-19 crisis. Due to difficulties in diagnosing this infection in populations around the world, initiatives supported by digital technologies have been developed by governments or private companies which enable the tracking of the public’s symptoms, contacts and movements. Considering the current scenario, these initiatives, designed to support the surveillance and monitoring of contagion, are essential and necessary.  Nonetheless, ethical, legal and technical questions remain unanswered regarding the amount and types of personal data being collected, processed, shared and used in the name of public health, as well as the concomitant or later use of this data. These challenges demonstrate the need for new models of responsible and transparent data and technology governance in efforts to control Sars-Cov2 as well as future public health emergencies.

28th May 2020 • comment