San Juan. The population study PREPCOVI (Puerto Rico-Epidemiological Evaluation and Prevention for COVID-19 and Influenza) of the Medical Sciences Campus (RCM) of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) today revealed new research findings that, so far It has had 1,774 participants from the Island.
“We call on citizens to participate in this study. Any citizen could receive a text message on their cell phone inviting them to participate in this PREPCOVI study. Pressing the link would initiate a survey, which we ask you to complete so that, in Puerto Rico, we can have better data and thus more effectively prevent COVID and Influenza. Completing this form is a way to contribute to the public health of Puerto Rico ”, explained Dr. Segundo Rodríguez Quilichini, Rector of the RCM.
At the moment, the majority of respondents (68.5%) are women. The participants ranged from 21 to 92 years of age and 75 of the 78 municipalities of Puerto Rico are represented. According to preliminary results, men and people over 65 were more likely to have been classified as a COVID-19 case and to be a confirmed case.
On the other hand, the geographic distribution of confirmed cases suggests higher numbers in the eastern region of Puerto Rico. While the total cases (confirmed and / or probable) were higher in the Northeast region. 4% of all cases reported symptoms lasting more than 21 days. None of the cases with COVID-19 reported receiving hospitalization services, Intensive Care Unit or oxygen treatment. The most frequent symptoms reported of the confirmed and / or probable cases with COVID-19 were loss of smell (52%), loss of taste (50%) and fever (43%). It should be noted that confirmed and total cases suggest to be higher among people with diabetes. While confirmed cases were highest among people with respiratory conditions and total cases were highest among obese people.
“We need more data to be able to establish more accurate associations between comorbidities and COVID-19. Therefore, these data should be considered descriptive. Our goal is to have 10,000 participants per month to have more accurate data, ”said Dr. Kaumudi Joshipura, principal investigator and professor at the RCM School of Dental Medicine.
This project has the support of the Telecommunications Bureau, telecommunications companies and the Department of Health. Potential participants will receive a text message from (787) 493-9302 like this: “PREPCOVI: UPR and the Department of Health invite you to participate in the anonymous 5-minute survey evaluating COVID-19 and Influenza. Click here to participate… “. It is important for citizens to know that this message does not have any risk, and is safe, since information that identifies the participant or their phone number is not retained.
Regarding Influenza, the 16.6% of the participants reported having taken a test for it in the last 30 days. Of these, 7.9% reported having tested positive during the last 30 days, which represents 1.3% of those surveyed. Of the participants who did not take the test, 1.4% believed they had had influenza. The age range of the cases was from 22 to 75 years; 40% of the influenza cases were over 60 years old. The majority (58.6%) of the participants reported having been vaccinated against influenza at some point. However, only 40.0% of all participants were vaccinated between 2019 and 2020 (less than a year), 84.5% of people who were vaccinated between 2019-2020 have an education level higher than a fourth-year diploma.
Risk and preventive factors of COVID-19
In relation to the risk and preventive factors of COVID-19, more than 90% of the participants reported following risk reduction practices. Such as: maintaining a distance of 6 feet (97.3%), washing or disinfecting hands frequently (99.0%), wearing a mask most of the time (98.3%), avoiding public spaces (91.3%), avoiding hospitals and / or clinics (90.9%), and avoid contact with people who could be infected or be at high risk (97.9%).
For their part, of the 226 participants who answered questions about their work environment, 62.0% of these were currently employed. 66.4% of these indicated that they work close to other people.
It should be noted that questions about vaccination against COVID-19 were added to the study questionnaire, after the vaccines were available in Puerto Rico. 16.8% of the participants received one or more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Most reported having been vaccinated at a hospital or medical facility (47.4%) or vaccination center (31.6%); 72.2% received the Pfizer vaccine and the rest received Moderna. Of those vaccinated, 38.9% (n = 7) of participants reported short-term side effects, with 57.1% of them reporting injection site pain. 82.4% of the participants indicated they are willing to be vaccinated against COVID-19, while 17.7% are not sure.
Of the participants who have not been vaccinated, 47.1% said they qualified to receive the vaccine according to their age, health or work criteria, while 23.5% answered that they did not qualify yet and 29.4% did not know if they qualified.
“PREPCOVI is one of the multiple efforts, initiatives, services and research that the School of Dental Medicine offers to Puerto Rico. We are proud that members of our faculty are part of this important project for the study and prevention of COVID-19 and Influenza on our Island, ”said Dr. José Matos, Dean of the RCM School of Dental Medicine.