A new study published in Lancet Public Health has found that frontline healthcare workers with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) have a three-fold increased risk of a positive SARS-CoV-2 test, compared to the general population.
Those with inadequate PPE had a further increase in risk. The study also found that healthcare workers from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds were more likely to test positive.
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 healthcare workers in the UK and US. The prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 was 2747 cases per 100,000 frontline healthcare workers compared with 242 cases per 100,000 people in the general community. A little over 20% of frontline healthcare workers reported at least one symptom associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection compared with 14·4% of the general population; fatigue, loss of smell or taste, and hoarse voice were especially frequent.
Minority healthcare 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.
Professor Sebastien Ourselin, senior author from King’s College London said: “The findings of our study have tremendous impact for healthcare workers and hospitals. The data is clear in revealing that there is still an elevated risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection despite availability of PPE.