Background: Research on occupation and risk of COVID-19 among foreign-born workers is lacking. We investigated whether working in essential occupations was associated with COVID-19 diagnosis, hospitalisation and intensive care unit (ICU) admission and whether foreign-born workers in similar occupations as Swedish-born individuals had a higher risk of the studied outcomes.
Methods: Occupational data (2018-2019) of 326 052 employees (20-65 years) who were resident in Sweden as of 1 January 2020 were linked to COVID-19 data registered from 1 January 2020 to 28 February 2021. We analysed the risk of COVID-19 outcomes in different occupational groups and in four immigrant/occupation intersectional groups using Cox proportional hazards regression with adjustments for sociodemographic and socioeconomic characteristics and pre-existing comorbidities.
Results: We identified 29797, 1069 and 152 cases of COVID-19 diagnosis, hospitalisations and ICU admissions, respectively, in our cohort. Workers in essential occupations had an elevated risk of COVID-19 diagnosis, hospitalisation, and ICU admissions. Healthcare workers had a higher risk of all the outcomes compared with other essential workers. Relative to Swedish-born workers in non-essential occupations, foreign-born workers in essential occupations had 1.85 (95% CI 1.78 to 1.93), 3.80 (95% CI 3.17 to 4.55) and 3.79 (95% CI 2.33 to 6.14) times higher risk of COVID-19 diagnosis, hospitalisation and ICU admission, respectively. The corresponding risks among Swedish-born workers in essential occupations were 1.44 (95% CI 1.40 to 1.49), 1.30 (95% CI 1.08 to 1.56) and 1.46 (95% CI 0.90 to 2.38).
Conclusion: Occupation was associated with COVID-19 outcomes and contributed to the burden of COVID-19 among foreign-born individuals in this study.
Keywords: COVID-19; epidemiology; public health.
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2022. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ.