Increase in indoor inhalant allergen sensitivity during the covid-19 pandemic in south China: A cross-sectional study from 2017 to 2020

Yusi Li, Haisheng Hu, Teng Zhang, Guoliang Wang, Huimin Huang, Peiyan Zheng, Baoqing Sun, Xiaohua Douglas Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Purpose: Public health measures during COVID-19 have led to an unprecedented change in social lifestyle which might have an impact on the allergen sensitization in population. We sought to explore the prevalence patterns of serum inhalant and food allergen-specific IgE (sIgE) sensitization and serum total immunoglobulin E (tIgE) level among patients with clinical symptoms of suspected allergic diseases before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in south China. Patients and Methods: A large epidemiology study was conducted on the prevalence patterns of sIgE sensitization and serum tIgE level among 13,715 patients with allergic symptoms in south China from 2017 to 2020. Chi-square test and Fisher exact test were used to test statistical significance of allergen sensitization difference among years. Logistic regression was performed to assess the magnitudes of the differences among years by adjusted odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals. Results: The number of hospital visits for patients with suspected allergy symptoms decreased during COVID-19. The positive rates of indoor inhalant allergens (house dust mites, German cockroach, dog dander) and tIgE increased significantly in 2020, while no significant differences were found in food allergens (egg white, milk, soya bean, shrimp) before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The odds of sIgE positives in indoor inhalant allergens and tIgE positive for 2017 and 2020 were all larger than 1.00. After grouping by age and gender, there were significant differences in the positive rates of indoor inhalant allergens and tIgE when comparing 2020 with 2017. Conclusion: The prevalence of sensitization increased significantly to indoor inhalant allergens but not to food allergens in south China during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1185-1195
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Asthma and Allergy
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the University of Macau (grant numbers: FHS-CRDA-029-002-2017, EF005/FHS-ZXH /2018/GSTIC and MYRG2018-00071-FHS), the Science and Technology Development Fund, Macau SAR (File no. 0004/ 2019/AFJ and 0011/2019/AKP), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81802076 and 81871736), the National Key Technology R&D Program (2018YFC1311902), the Guangdong Science and Technology Foundation (2019B030316028), the Guangzhou Municipal Health Foundation (20191A011073), and the Guangzhou Science and Technology Foundation (201804020043). Kuan Cheok Lei helped the proofreading of the work.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Li et al.


  • Allergy
  • Epidemiology
  • Specific immunoglobulin E
  • Total immunoglobulin E

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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