As the new strain of the coronavirus spreads across the world, a team of researchers from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States, carried out a study to understand travel-related anxiety among healthcare workers.
The researchers of the study, published in the preprint server medRxiv, sent a cross-sectional questionnaire to healthcare workers between December 21, 2020, and January 7, 2021.
They aimed to understand the knowledge and awareness of healthcare workers about the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 lineage, their associated travel-related anxiety, and the generalised anxiety disorder (GAD-7) score were the outcome variables assessed.
Of the 1,058 HCWs who completed the online survey, nine per cent of these had previously contracted Covid-19 themselves. Most of the HCWs (97.3 per cent) were aware of the emergence of the new B.1.1.7 variant and 73.8 per cent of the HCWs were aware that the B.1.1.7 lineage is more infectious.
However, 78 per cent of HCWs thought the new variant causes more severe disease. Only 50.0 per cent of the HCWs knew that currently available Covid-19 vaccines effectively prevented it.
Around 66.7 per cent of HCWs had not registered to receive the current Covid-19 vaccine. The most common information source about the new variant for HCWs was social media platforms (67 per cent), and this subgroup was considerably more worried about travelling.
Nurses were more worried about travel than physicians. Those who had not travelled in the past three months and those who had not registered for or received the Covid-19 vaccine were also more worried.
To summarise, based on the findings, most HCWs were aware of the emergence of the new SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 and had substantial travel-related anxiety. Increased worry was found among HCWs whose primary source of information was social media, those who have not received the Covid-19 vaccine, and those with greater GAD-7 scores.
The authors stated that the utilisation of official social media platforms may improve the dissemination of accurate information among HCWs about the evolving mutations and new variants of SARS-CoV-2.
According to the researchers, more targeted vaccine campaigns will assure HCWs about the efficacy of the current Covid-19 vaccines toward new variants of SARS-CoV-2.
“HCWs should abstain from international travel for leisure to decrease the risk of introducing new variants to their health care facilities when they return,” they noted.