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1 "Hyemin Jung"
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COVID-19: Original Article
Worsening of health disparities across COVID-19 pandemic stages in Korea
Hyejin Lee, Hyunwoo Nam, Jae-ryun Lee, Hyemin Jung, Jin Yong Lee
Epidemiol Health. 2024;46:e2024038.   Published online March 13, 2024
DOI: https://doi.org/10.4178/epih.e2024038
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AbstractAbstract AbstractSummary PDF
Abstract
OBJECTIVES
With the end of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the health outcomes of this disease in Korea must be examined. We aimed to investigate health outcomes and disparities linked to socioeconomic status during the COVID-19 pandemic in Korea and to identify risk factors for hospitalization and mortality.
METHODS
This nationwide retrospective study incorporated an analysis of individuals with and without COVID-19 in Korea between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2022. The study period was divided into 4 stages. Prevalence, hospitalization, mortality, and case-fatality rates were calculated per 100,000 population. Multivariate logistic regression was performed to identify risk factors for COVID-19 hospitalization and mortality.
RESULTS
Overall, the incidence rate was 40,601 per 100,000 population, the mortality rate was 105 per 100,000 population, and the case-fatality rate was 259 per 100,000 cases. A total of 12,577,367 new cases (24.5%) were recorded in stage 3 and 8,979,635 cases (17.5%) in stage 4. Medical Aid recipients displayed the lowest 3-year cumulative incidence rate (32,737 per 100,000) but the highest hospitalization (5,663 cases per 100,000), mortality (498 per 100,000), and case-fatality (1,521 per 100,000) rates. Male sex, older age, lower economic status, non-metropolitan area of residence, high Charlson comorbidity index, and disability were associated with higher risk of hospitalization and death. Vaccination was found to reduce mortality risk.
CONCLUSIONS
As the pandemic progressed, surges were observed in incidence, hospitalization, and mortality, exacerbating disparities associated with economic status and disability. Nevertheless, Korea has maintained a low case-fatality rate across all economic groups.
Summary
Korean summary
국민건강보험공단 자료를 이용하여 2020-2022년 후향적 코호트를 구축하여 시기별 코로나19 유병률, 입원률, 사망률, 치명률과 장애, 소득에 따른 건강격차를 확인하였을 때, 코로나19 대유행이 진행됨에 따라 발병률, 입원률, 사망률이 급증하고 건강 격차가 확대되었다. 그러나 이러한 격차에도 불구하고 한국은 다른 국가들과 비교하여 모든 소득수준에서 낮은 치명률을 유지하였다.
Key Message
Using data from the National Health Insurance Service, a retrospective cohort for the years 2020-2022 was established. By examining the COVID-19 prevalence rate, hospitalisation rate, mortality rate, and case-fatality rate, along with health disparities based on disability and economic status, as the pandemic progressed, there was a surge in incidence, hospitalisation, and mortality, widening disparities related to economic status and disability. Despite these disparities, Korea has maintained a low case-fatality rate across all economic groups.

Epidemiol Health : Epidemiology and Health