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Occupation and SARS-CoV-2 infection risk among 108 960 workers during the first pandemic wave in Germany

Objective: The aim of this study was to identify the occupational risk for a SARS-CoV-2 infection in a nationwide sample of German workers during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic (1 February - 31 August 2020).

Methods: We used the data of 108 960 workers who participated in a COVID follow-up survey of the German National Cohort (NAKO). Occupational characteristics were derived from the German Classification of Occupations 2010 (Klassifikation der Berufe 2010). PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections were assessed from self-reports. Incidence rates (IR) and incidence rate ratios (IRR) were estimated using robust Poisson regression, adjusted for person-time at risk, age, sex, migration background, study center, working hours, and employment relationship.

Results: The IR was 3.7 infections per 1000 workers [95% confidence interval (CI) 3.3-4.1]. IR differed by occupational sector, with the highest rates observed in personal (IR 4.8, 95% CI 4.0-5.6) and business administration (IR 3.4, 95% CI 2.8-3.9) services and the lowest rates in occupations related to the production of goods (IR 2.0, 95% CI 1.5-2.6). Infections were more frequent among essential workers compared with workers in non-essential occupations (IRR 1.95, 95% CI 1.59-2.40) and among highly skilled compared with skilled professions (IRR 1.36, 95% CI 1.07-1.72).

Conclusions: The results emphasize higher infection risks in essential occupations and personal-related services, especially in the healthcare sector. Additionally, we found evidence that infections were more common in higher occupational status positions at the beginning of the pandemic.

This article is published in the "Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health" (2022).

Bibliographic information

M. Reuter, M. Rigó, M. Formazin, F. Liebers, U. Latza, S. Castell, K.-H. Jöckel, K. H. Greiser, K. B. Michels, G. Krause, S. Albrecht, I. Öztürk, O. Kuss, K. Berger, B. M. J. Lampl, M. Leitzmann, H. Zeeb, K. Romero Starke, S. Schipf, et. al.:
Occupation and SARS-CoV-2 infection risk among 108 960 workers during the first pandemic wave in Germany. 
in: Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, Volume 48, Issue 6 2022. pages 446-456, Project number: F 2515, DOI: 10.5271/sjweh.4037

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Research Project

Project numberF 2515 StatusCompleted Project Analysis of job-related health effects of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic based on the National Cohort in Germany (NAKO Health Study)

Find out more : Analysis of job-related health effects of the SARS--Severe acute respiratory syndrome-CoV--Corona virus-2 pandemic based on the National Cohort in Germany (NAKO Health Study) …

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