Fewer comorbidities, milder symptoms and a better COVID prognosis in health workers

Occupational exposure to COVID-19 in healthcare professionals does not lead to more clinical severity or mortality. Likewise, those who were hospitalized for SARS-CoV-2 infection had “fewer comorbidities, milder symptoms, and a better prognosis” than non-health workers. This has been reflected in the results of an observational cohort study based on data from the SEMI-COVID-19 registry, from Spanish Society of Internal Medicine (SEMI).

This work is signed by 25 internists and has been published in the Scientific Magazine PLOS ONE under the title “Healthcare workers hospitalized due to COVID-19 have no higher risk of death than general population. Data from the Spanish SEMI-COVID-19 Registry”.

Among the health workers, 142 (33.9%) were doctors, 107 (25.5%) were nurses, 98 (23.4%) were nursing assistants, and 72 (17.2%) held other positions and functions in the health field. The departments to which most of them belonged were Primary Care (16.6%), Emergency Service (11.3%) and Internal Medicine (11.3%).

In this study, data from a total of 4,393 patients in an age range between 20 and 65 years. Of these, 419 were healthcare professionals and 3,974 non-healthcare workers. The median age of health professionals was 52 years and the 62.4 percent were women.

Study variables

In the study, analyzed approximately 300 variables, including epidemiological data, RT-PCR data, personal medical and medication history, symptoms and examination findings on admission, laboratory and diagnostic imaging tests, drug treatment, respiratory support during hospitalization, complications and death during hospitalization , as well as readmissions and survival 30 days after diagnosis.

The prevalence of comorbidities and severe radiological findings on admission hospital were less frequent in the group of health professionals. On the other hand, they were more common in the non-healthcare group (these findings include, for example, pleural effusion).

However, there were no differences regarding the need for respiratory support and the need for ICU admission between the two groups. Even so, the sepsis (1.7% in health workers versus 3.9% in non-health workers) and the hospital mortality (0.7% vs 4.8%) were less frequent among healthcare personnel.

The moderate and severe dependence it was more frequent in non-healthcare workers. An interesting finding of the study was that upon admission the health worker had milder symptoms, such as loss of smell or taste and arthralgia, as well as better analytical profile.

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