Researchers are working around the clock to respond to the many-faceted challenges of COVID-19. This month’s featured articles report on the mental health, and economic impacts, shedding light on issues that stem from the pandemic and the associated global lockdown and reboot. These findings help to inform pressing decisions to ensure worldwide safety whilst the virus continues to change our everyday normal life.
Taking a toll in China
Has the pandemic affected the mental health of medical professionals in China? Published in JAMA Network Open, a study reveals a sharp rise in symptoms of depression and anxiety in first-year medical residents. Srijan Sen, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist from the University of Michigan led the study, which compared surveys taken by residents in Oct-Nov 2019, with those from Jan-Feb 2020, at the point the pandemic peaked in China. Mental health issues spiked in the two-month period, with hundreds experiencing significant mood changes.
Managing The Stress
In contrast to the situation in China, Swiss and German workers appear to be coping well and adapting to a new working landscape during the pandemic. Occupational health researchers at the Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute of the University of Zurich conducted a survey comparing the pre- and post-outbreak attitudes towards work conditions, well-being, and work-life balance of about 600 respondents. Overall, participants after the outbreak were more able to unwind from work, relax and engage with family. A notable exception, however, were those participants with primary childcare responsibilities; they reported feeling an increased burden at home.
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
A new modelling study led by University College London (UCL) and Tsinghua University suggests that a more cautious approach to easing lockdown restrictions reduces the risk of later lockdowns, and supports the global supply chain. From an economic perspective, the findings also conclude that stricter lockdowns for a two-month periods are preferable to moderate lockdowns for longer periods (four to six months); the longer durations lead to increased disruption.