The PROTECT COVID-19 National Core Study

The PROTECT COVID-19 National Core Study on transmission and environment is a UK-wide research programme improving our understanding of how SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is transmitted from person to person, and how this varies in different settings and environments. This improved understanding will enable more effective measures to stop transmission, saving lives and getting society back towards ‘normal’

Using data from the Office for National Statistics, Dr Edge and PROTECT colleagues wish to answer new questions about the drivers of these occupational differences by examining viral load and vaccination status. In addition, we will explore in more depth how occupational differences vary by ethnic group and region. We also want to look at whether observed differences in COVID-19 positivity across occupations translate to differences in the prevalence and severity of long-COVID.

  1. Does COVID-19 viral load vary by occupation?

  2. Does the prevalence of long-COVID symptoms vary by occupation?

  3. Do ethnic and regional differences modify occupational risks of COVID-19 and Long-COVID?

  4. Does rate of COVID-19 vaccine uptake or previous COVID-19 infection by occupation act as a mediator for occupational differences in positivity rates?

Main Findings/Outputs

Vaccination uptake in different occupational groups
Using nationwide population-level data, we calculated the proportion of people who had received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine (assessed on 31 August 2021) by detailed occupational categories in adults aged 40-64 and estimated adjusted odds ratios to examine whether these differences were driven by occupation or other factors, such as education. We also examined whether vaccination rates differed by ability to work from home. Our study population included 14,298,147 adults 40-64. Vaccination rates differed markedly by occupation, being higher in administrative and secretarial occupations (90.8%); professional occupations (90.7%); and managers, directors and senior officials (90.6%); and lowest (83.1%) in people working in elementary occupations. We found substantial differences in vaccination rates looking at finer occupational groups even after adjusting for confounding factors, such as education. Vaccination rates were higher in occupations which can be done from home and lower in those which cannot. Many occupations with low vaccination rates also involved contact with the public or with vulnerable people. Available as a pre-print.