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Biological risk in Italian prisons: data analysis from the second to the fourth wave of COVID-19 pandemic
  1. Cristiano Franchi1,
  2. Riccardo Rossi1,
  3. Andrea Malizia2,
  4. Pasqualino Gaudio1,
  5. Daniele Di Giovanni1,3
  1. 1 Industrial Engineering, University of Rome Tor Vergata Engineering Macro Area, Roma, Italy
  2. 2 Department of Biomedicine and Prevention, University of Rome Tor Vergata Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, Roma, Italy
  3. 3 UniCamillus, Rome, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Cristiano Franchi, Industrial Engineering, University of Rome Tor Vergata Engineering Macro Area, Roma 00185, Italy; cristiano.franchi{at}


Background The management of COVID-19 in Italian prisons triggered considerable concern at the beginning of the pandemic due to numerous riots which resulted in inmate deaths, damages and prison breaks. The aim of this study is to shed some light, through analysis of the infection and relevant disease parameters, on the period spanning from the second to the fourth wave of the outbreak in Italy’s prisons.

Methods Reproductive number (Rt) and Hospitalisation were calculated through a Eulerian approach applied to differential equations derived from compartmental models. Comparison between trends was performed through paired t-test and linear regression analyses.

Results The infection trends (prevalence and Rt) show a high correlation between the prison population and the external community. Both the indices appear to be lagging 1 week in prison. The prisoners’ Rt values are not statistically different from those of the general population. The hospitalisation trend of inmates strongly correlates with the external population’s, with a delay of 2 weeks. The magnitude of hospitalisations in prison is less than in the external community for the period analysed.

Conclusions The comparison with the external community revealed that in prison the infection prevalence was greater, although Rt values showed no significant difference, and the hospitalisation rate was lower. These results suggest that the consistent monitoring of inmates results in a higher infection prevalence while a wide vaccination campaign leads to a lower hospitalisation rate. All three indices demonstrate a lag of 1 or 2 weeks in prison. This delay could represent a useful time-window to strengthen planned countermeasures.

  • Public health
  • COVID-19
  • Hygiene

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  • Contributors CF, RR, AM, PG and DDG equally contributed to the design and implementation of the research, to the analysis of the results and to the writing of the manuscript. DDG is the guarantor of this research.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.