Healthcare workers are seven times more likely to have a severe COVID-19 infection than those with other types of ‘non-essential’ jobs, according to research led by the University of Glasgow, which focused on the first lockdown in everything. the United Kingdom.
The study, which is published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, found that those with jobs in the social care and transportation sectors are twice as likely to have severe COVID-19, emphasizing the need to ensure that workers essentials (key) are adequately protected. against infection, say the researchers.
So far, few studies have looked at the differences in the risk of developing a severe COVID-19 infection between different groups of workers. While those who work in healthcare functions are known to be at increased risk, it is unclear what the risks might be for those who work in other sectors.
Therefore, the researchers compared the risk of developing a severe COVID-19 infection in essential and non-essential workers, based on linked data from the UK Biobank study (2006-10), COVID-19 test results. 19 from Public Health England and deaths recorded for the period of March 16 to July 26, 2020.
The UK Biobank is a long-term study tracking factors that potentially influence the development of disease in around half a million middle-aged and older adults.
Severe infection was defined as a positive test result for SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, while in hospital, or death attributable to the virus.
The study included 120,075 employees between the ages of 49 and 64. Of these, 35,127 (29%) were classified as essential workers: health (9%); social care and education (11%); ‘other’ to include police and those who work in transportation and food preparation (9%)
Those of black and Asian ethnicities comprised almost 3% each of the total. They were more likely to be essential workers, as were women.
In all, 271 employees had a severe COVID-19 infection. Health professionals, defined as doctors and pharmacists; medical support staff; associated health professionals, defined as nurses and paramedics; and welfare and transportation workers had higher rates of severe COVID-19 than non-essential workers.
Compared with non-essential workers, those who worked in healthcare functions were more than 7 times more likely to have a serious infection.
And those who worked in welfare and education had an 84% chance of doing so; while “other” essential workers had a 60% higher risk of developing severe COVID-19.
When the researchers further refined the job categories, it was found that medical support personnel were almost 9 times more likely to develop a serious illness; those who receive social assistance are almost 2.5 times more likely to do so; while transport workers were twice as likely to do so.
And when the researchers looked at the impact of ethnicity, they found that serious infection risks for black and Asian non-essential workers were similar to those of white essential workers, suggesting that ethnicity is a key factor.
Black and Asian non-essential workers were also more than 3 times more likely to develop a severe COVID-19 infection than non-essential white workers, while Black and Asian essential workers were more than 8 times more likely to do so. .
With the exception of transportation workers, for whom an increased risk of severe COVID-19 infection was related to socioeconomic status, the findings held true even after taking into account potentially influential risk factors, including driving style. life, coexisting health problems and work patterns.
This is an observational study and therefore cannot establish a cause. And the authors acknowledge that their initial background data was collected more than a decade ago, so they could not account for any changes in health, lifestyle, income, and employment status. The UK Biobank is also not representative of the general population.
The researchers were also unable to account for changes in risk over time, such as the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE). However, the findings echo those of other studies, they note.
Lead author Dr. Evangelia Demou said: “Our findings reinforce the need for adequate health and safety arrangements and the provision of PPE for essential workers, especially in the health and social care sectors. The health and well-being of essential workers is critical to limiting the spread and managing the burden of global pandemics. “