This is a summary, written by members of the CITF Secretariat, of:

Boucher E, Cao C, D’Mello S, Duarte N, Donnici C, Duarte N, Bennett G, SeroTracker Consortium, Adisesh A, Arora R, Kodama D, Bobrovitz N. Occupation and SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence studies: a systematic review. BMJ Open. February 2023. DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-063771.

The results and/or conclusions contained in the research do not necessarily reflect the views of all CITF members.

A systematic review published in BMJ Open, drawing on data from the CITF-funded Serotracker initiative led by Dr. Rahul Arora (University of Calgary), highlights that SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence varied widely across occupations during the first year of the pandemic. Seroprevalence estimates ranged from 22% among people in personal care and service occupations (based on 14 estimates) to 1% among those in arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations (based on 6 estimates).

Key findings:

  • Seroprevalence estimates were available for 21 of 23 identified major occupational groups, including occupations such as food preparation and serving, as well as transportation and material moving occupations. Estimates were missing for military-specific and legal occupations.
  • Most studies (80%) were conducted locally (as opposed to regionally or nationally), relied on small samples (the median being 220 participants per occupation), and were restricted to one occupational group only.
  • Most studies (70%) contained a high risk of bias.

The authors underscore that seroprevalence studies are still needed to improve our understanding of the risks to particular occupational groups posed by SARS-CoV-2, as well as from other respiratory viruses, depending on occupational setting.

This systematic review included a total of 196 studies published between January and December 2020, before the initial vaccine roll-out. Together, it included almost 600,000 participants from 38 countries. Occupations were extracted and classified according to the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) 2010 system, in order to ensure interpretability and comparability across datasets.

Note from CITF Secretariat: Occupation, as a social determinant of health, is an important risk factor for SARS-CoV-2 infection. If you want to learn more about social determinants of health, you can read our International Research Review published in December 2022.