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Ethnicity and risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection among the healthcare workforce: Results of a retrospective cohort study in rural United Kingdom.

Abstract

A one-year-follow-up retrospective cohort study has been conducted among NHS employees working at 123 facilities in Lincolnshire, UK.

The reason why Black and South Asian healthcare workers are at a higher risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection remain unclear. We aim to quantify risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection among ethnic minority healthcare staff and elucidate pathways of infection.

Overall, 13,366 professionals were included. SARS-CoV-2 incidence per person-year was 5.2% [95%CI: 3.6%-7.6%] during the first COVID-19 wave (Jan-Aug 2020) and 17.2% [13.5%-22.0%] during the second wave (Sep 2020-Feb 2021). Compared to White staff, Black and South Asian employees were at higher risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection during both the first wave (HR, 1.58 [0.91-2.75] and 1.69 [1.07-2.66] respectively) and the second wave (HR 2.09 [1.57-2.76] and 1.46 [1.24-1.71]). Higher risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection persisted even after controlling for age, gender, pay grade, residence environment, type of work and time exposure at work. Higher adjusted risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection were also found among lower-paid health professionals.

Black and South Asian health workers continue to be more at risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection compared to their White counterparts. Urgent interventions are required to reduce SARS-CoV-2 infection in these ethnic groups.

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