COVID-19 infection in migrants and homeless. An epidemiological study on characteristics of disease in vulnerable populations and role of olfactory dysfunction as a predictor of infection in these subjects.
|Francesca Yoshie Russo||Componenti strutturati del gruppo di ricerca|
|Chiara Cedola||Medico||Sapienza Università di Roma||Altro personale aggregato Sapienza o esterni, titolari di borse di studio di ricerca|
The development of the recent COVID-19 pandemic has affected all segments of the population transversely; however, the infection has been more harmful to some groups of vulnerable subjects, including the homeless and migrants. In these specific populations, the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is not known, and it is possible to imagine them as reservoirs of the virus, hidden sources of contagion and difficult to trace by epidemiological link studies.
Olfactory dysfunction has been reported as a symptom of COVID-19 infection, especially in asymptomatic or paucisymptomatic subjects, in as much as 87% of patients. This suggests special attention to this symptom, as it could be a potential predictor of COVID-19 in otherwise healthy subjects.
Specific studies on prevalence of COVID-19 in fragile populations such as migrants and homeless have never been investigated. Furthermore, data on olfactory dysfunction in COVID-19 patients belonging to these populations are still unknown, as well as their relationship to degree and phase of infection. This research project will include 500 adult migrants and homeless of both sexes that will be reached through the ambulatory service of the Elemosineria Apostolica of the Vatican City State and will 1) perform an epidemiologic analysis of the diffusion of COVID-19 infection in this vulnerable population, relating it to anamnestic and clinical data of the patients, and 2) evaluate the presence of olfactory dysfunction in this population through otolaryngology examination, olfactometry and self-administered questionnaire.
Our results will allow to identify the prevalence and characteristics of COVID-19 in a vulnerable population, and to evaluate the potential role of olfactory dysfunction as an early indicator of infection in these patients, thus allowing to promptly identify affected cases and limit the spread of the infection, especially in fragile populations where it is facilitated by environmental and behavioral conditions.