Those working in social care settings were almost two and a half times as likely.
The research, undertaken by the from the University of Glasgow and published in the BMJ Occupational and Environmental Medicine journal, followed 120,075 employees and of which 29% were classified as “essential workers”.
The study found that 271 people were deemed to have “severe COVID-19” with researchers finding that those working in healthcare roles had “higher rates of severe Covid-19 than non-essential workers” with a seven-fold increase than non-essential workers.
A “severe infection” was defined by the study as a positive COVID-19 test result while in hospital or having their death attributed to the virus.
In a posthoc analysis, the team also noted that “non-white essential workers were disproportionally at higher risk of severe COVID-19”.
Office and National Statistics (ONS) data reveals that over 650 health and social care workers in the UK have had their deaths attributed to the virus.
Increased risk of exposure.
The authors noted that increased risk was due to occupation rather than socioeconomic status, as some previous studies have suggested.
In direct comparison, those working in social care settings were almost two and a half times as likely to have severe COVID-19 infection.
Increased risk of exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus is blamed by the study for the increase in risk to health and social care workers.
The data was gathered during the first wave of the pandemic in the UK.
The study’s authors admit that “future research” is needed on the topic but provided recommendations for an improved provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) for these workers.
“Our findings reinforce the need for adequate health and safety arrangements and provision of PPE for essential workers, especially in the health and social care sectors,” said the authors.
Before adding; “The health and well-being of essential workers is critical to limiting the spread and managing the burden of global pandemics”