Occupational differences in SARS-CoV-2 infection: analysis of the UK ONS COVID-19 infection survey

Rhodes, S., Wilkinson, J., Pearce, N., Mueller, W., Cherrie, M., Stocking, K., Gittins, M., Katikireddi, S. V. and Tongeren, M. V. (2022) Occupational differences in SARS-CoV-2 infection: analysis of the UK ONS COVID-19 infection survey. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 76(10), pp. 841-846. (doi: 10.1136/jech-2022-219101) (PMID:35817467) (PMCID:PMC9484374)

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Abstract

Background: Concern remains about how occupational SARS-CoV-2 risk has evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic. We aimed to ascertain occupations with the greatest risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and explore how relative differences varied over the pandemic. Methods: Analysis of cohort data from the UK Office of National Statistics COVID-19 Infection Survey from April 2020 to November 2021. This survey is designed to be representative of the UK population and uses regular PCR testing. Cox and multilevel logistic regression were used to compare SARS-CoV-2 infection between occupational/sector groups, overall and by four time periods with interactions, adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, deprivation, region, household size, urban/rural neighbourhood and current health conditions. Results: Based on 3 910 311 observations (visits) from 312 304 working age adults, elevated risks of infection can be seen overall for social care (HR 1.14; 95% CI 1.04 to 1.24), education (HR 1.31; 95% CI 1.23 to 1.39), bus and coach drivers (1.43; 95% CI 1.03 to 1.97) and police and protective services (HR 1.45; 95% CI 1.29 to 1.62) when compared with non-essential workers. By time period, relative differences were more pronounced early in the pandemic. For healthcare elevated odds in the early waves switched to a reduction in the later stages. Education saw raises after the initial lockdown and this has persisted. Adjustment for covariates made very little difference to effect estimates. Conclusions: Elevated risks among healthcare workers have diminished over time but education workers have had persistently higher risks. Long-term mitigation measures in certain workplaces may be warranted.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Funding This work was supported by funding through the National Core Study 'PROTECT' programme, managed by the Health and Safety Executive on behalf of HM Government. SVK acknowledges funding from a NRS Senior Clinical Fellowship (SCAF/15/02), the Medical Research Council (MC_UU_00022/2) and the Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office (SPHSU17).
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Katikireddi, Professor Vittal
Authors: Rhodes, S., Wilkinson, J., Pearce, N., Mueller, W., Cherrie, M., Stocking, K., Gittins, M., Katikireddi, S. V., and Tongeren, M. V.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Publisher:BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN:0143-005X
ISSN (Online):1470-2738
Published Online:11 July 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 76(10): 841-846
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
172690Understanding the impacts of welfare policy on health: A novel data linkage studySrinivasa KatikireddiOffice of the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSO)SCAF/15/02HW - Public Health
3048231Inequalities in healthAlastair LeylandMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_00022/2HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
3048231Inequalities in healthAlastair LeylandOffice of the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSO)SPHSU17HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit