Effect of Increased Alcohol Consumption During COVID-19 Pandemic on Alcohol-Associated Liver Disease: A Modeling Study
Background and Aims
Alcohol consumption increased during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 in the United States. This study projected the effect of increased alcohol consumption on alcohol-associated liver disease (ALD) and mortality.
Approach and Results
This study extended a previously validated microsimulation model that estimated the short- and long-term effects of increased alcohol use during the COVID-19 pandemic in individuals in the United States born between 1920 and 2012. This study modeled short- and long-term outcomes of current alcohol use patterns during COVID-19 (status quo) using survey data of changes in alcohol consumption in a nationally representative sample between February and November 2020. This study compared these outcomes with a counterfactual scenario wherein no COVID-19 occurs and alcohol use patterns do not change.
One-year increase in alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to result in 8000 (95% uncertainty interval [UI], 7500–8600) additional ALD-related deaths, 18,700 (95% UI, 17,600–19,900) cases of decompensated cirrhosis, and 1000 (95% UI, 1000–1100) cases of HCC, and 8.9 million disability-adjusted life years between 2020 and 2040. Between 2020 and 2023, alcohol consumption changes due to COVID-19 will lead to 100 (100–200) additional deaths and 2800 (2700–2900) additional decompensated cirrhosis cases. A sustained increase in alcohol consumption for more than 1 year could result in additional morbidity and mortality.
A short-term increase in alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic can substantially increase long-term ALD-related morbidity and mortality. These findings highlight the need for individuals and policymakers to make informed decisions to mitigate the impact of high-risk alcohol drinking in the United States.