In April, caregivers were almost 3.5 times more likely to catch Covid-19 than the rest of the population, according to a study published on Saturday, which notes an even higher risk for ethnic minorities.
The study, published in the Lancet, analyzed data entered by users in a special “Covid” application on smartphones, between March 24 and April 23 in the United Kingdom and the United States, then compared the risks to catch the disease between caregivers in direct contact with patients and the rest of the users.
The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 was precisely 2,747 per 100,000 caregivers using the app, against 242 per 100,000 users in the general population.
Taking into account the differences in access to tests between caregivers and the rest of the population, the authors “estimate that caregivers are 3.4 times more likely to test positive for Covid-19”.
The risk is even five times higher for caregivers declaring themselves “from ethnic minorities, black or Asian”, even taking into account the medical history, further specify the authors.
“Our results confirm the structural inequalities in the face of Covid. Caregivers from minorities were more likely to work in riskier clinical environments, with suspected or confirmed Covid patients, and had less access to adequate protective equipment,” said the Dr Erica Warner, Harvard School of Medicine / Massachusetts General Hospital.
Unsurprisingly, unequal access to masks, gloves, gowns and other protection is also a significant risk factor.
Caregivers who used “inadequate” equipment were 1.3 times more at risk than those who said they had access to satisfactory equipment, the authors also indicate, adding that the study covers a period of shortage of protective equipment.
The study also shows that one in three caregivers from minorities did not have access to adequate equipment (or had to reuse it), compared to one in 4 among other caregivers.
About 2.6 million users in the UK and 182,408 in the US were included in the study initially. By eliminating those who used the app for less than 24 hours and those who tested positive from the start, 2.1 million people participated, including 99,795 who identified themselves as caregivers in direct contact with patients.