COVID-19 risk 3 times higher for front-line health workers

COVID-19 risk 3 times higher for front-line health workers

Using the Covid Symptom Tracker App, researchers from King's College London and Harvard looked at data from 2,035,395 individuals and 99,795 frontline health-care workers in the United Kingdom and US.

Frontline healthcare workers with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) have a three-fold increased risk of a positive SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) test, compared to the general population, said researchers.

In a commentary Linda McCauley from Emory University, who was not involved in the study, said the findings were "concerning", adding that many governments around the world "have not adequately improved healthcare workers' access to PPE".

'The health care organisations and frontline workers that are receiving this equipment are carrying out vital work to support their communities and those under their care, and we hope that it will enable them to work comfortably and safely'.

"Our findings highlight structural inequities in COVID risk", study co-author Erica Warner said in a statement. One such approach, they wrote, would be to use the World Health Organization's worldwide portal for PPE orders. The voluntary organisation also intends to provide longer-term psychological, educational and practical support for frontline healthcare workers, their children and families who have been negatively impacted by Covid-19.

BAME health-care workers were at an especially high risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, with at least a fivefold increased risk of infection compared with the non-Hispanic white general community. As such, it's unclear if the same observed risks of COVID-19 infection among healthcare workers would be similar today.

Not just did scientists discover that minority healthcare workers had actually an increased risk of Covid-19 infection, they likewise discovered that they were more most likely to report an absence of sufficient PPE and stated they were required to regularly recycle devices, Ouselin stated.

Front-line healthcare workers who reported having inadequate PPE were 1.3 times more likely to have COVID-19 than those with adequate PPE, the researchers found.

More than 2.6 million people participated in the COVID Symptom Study, including just under 200,000 in the United States, the researchers said.

Paramedics, who are often the first to see sick patients, are at far greater risk of testing positive for COVID-19 than others, the researchers said.

After accounting for pre-existing medical conditions, researchers estimated that healthcare workers from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds were nearly five times more likely to report a positive COVID-19 result than somebody from the general community. Black, Asian and minority health care workers had almost twice the increased risk of their white counterparts.

In a Massachusetts General Hospital news release, coauthor Andrew Chan, MD, PhD, said that frontline HCWs in many countries still face "vexing" PPE shortages. "Our results underscore the importance of providing adequate access to PPE and also suggest that the systemic racism associated with inequalities in access to PPE is likely to contribute to the disproportionate risk of infection among frontline minority health care workers".

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