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COVID-19 incidence, severity, medication use, and vaccination among dentists: Staggering body of evidence obtained from a survey during the second wave in Brazil




COVID-19 vaccines, vitamin D, zinc, ivermectin, chloroquine, evidence-based practice, SARS-CoV-2


This cross-sectional survey investigated the pandemic impact on dental practice in May 2021 (second wave in Brazil). COVID-19 incidence and severity among respondents, vaccination status, and level of confidence in vaccines were surveyed, in addition to medications used for preventing or treating COVID-19, including controversial drugs/substances (vitamin D, ivermectin, zinc, and chloroquine). Dentists were recruited by email and responded to a pretested questionnaire until May 31, 2021. In total, 1,907 responses were received (21.2% return rate). Bivariate and multivariate regression analyses were performed (α=0.05). Prevalence Ratios were calculated for the association between professional characteristics and two outcomes: report of SARS-CoV-2 infection and use of controversial drugs. One third of dentists reported intermediate levels of confidence in safety/efficacy of vaccines, but 96% received at least one vaccine dose, mainly CoronaVac. The impact of the pandemic on dental practice was rated as lower/much lower compared with one-year before (first wave) by 46% of respondents; 27% of dentists reported to have had a positive COVID-19 test, ~50% had relatives or friends who had been hospitalized or died from COVID-19. At least one medication was used by 59% of respondents, 43% used two or more drugs and substances. Vitamin D (41%), (35%), and zinc (29%) were the most frequent drugs/substances. More experienced dentists (≥21 years in practice) were 42% more likely to use controversial medications than less experienced respondents. Dentists with residency/advanced training as postgraduate education had 30% higher prevalence of controversial medication use than respondents holding MSc/PhD degrees. Respondents with low confidence in vaccines were 2.1 times more likely to use controversial medications than participants with very high confidence. The overall findings of this survey highlight the high severity of the pandemic in Brazil, and raised questions about the use of scientific evidence by dentists in their decision to take controversial COVID-19 medications.


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