Occupation, work-related contacts and anti-SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid serological status: results of the Virus Watch prospective cohort study

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Occupy Environ Med. April 21, 2022: oemed-2021-107920. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2021-107920. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: The risk of infection by SARS-CoV-2 varies according to professions; however, investigation of the factors underlying the differential risk is limited. We sought to estimate the total effect of occupation on SARS-CoV-2 serostatus, whether this is mediated by close workplace contact, and how exposure to poorly ventilated workplaces varied by occupation.

METHODS: We used data from a subcohort (n=3775) of adults in the UK-based Virus Watch Cohort Study who were tested for anti-SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid antibodies (indicating a natural infection). We used logistic decomposition to investigate the relationship between occupation, contact, and seropositivity, and logistic regression to investigate exposure to poorly ventilated workplaces.

RESULTS: Seropositivity was 17.1% among workers with daily close contact versus 10.0% for those with no work-related close contact. Compared to other occupational occupations, workers in health care, domestic trade/process/factory, recreation/personal services, and transport/mobile machinery had high adjusted total odds of HIV status (1. 80 (1.03 to 3.14) – 2.46 (1.82 to 3.33)). Work-related contacts accounted for a variable part of the increased odds across occupations (1.04 (1.01 to 1.08) – 1.23 (1.09 to 1.40)). Occupations with a high risk of infection after accounting for work-related contacts were also more at risk in poorly ventilated workplaces.

CONCLUSIONS: Work-related close contacts appear to contribute to occupational variation in seropositivity. Reducing contact in the workplace is an important control measure for COVID-19.

PMID:35450951 | DO I:10.1136/oemed-2021-107920

Michael A. Bynum