Shift work affects risk of Covid-19, severity of infection

Shift work and working face-to-face with others affect the risk of Covid-19 and the severity of the infection, new research has shown.

According to the research conducted by Norway’s University of Bergen, an online survey asked 7,141 workers from 16 countries about their work conditions, if they had been infected with the coronavirus, how serious the infection was, and if they had been hospitalised because of Covid-19.

The survey showed that those who worked face-to-face with others were found to have a higher risk of Covid-19.

“However, they did not have a higher risk of getting a more severe outcome of the infection, compared to those not working face-to-face with others,” said Bjorn Bjorvatn, Professor at the University of Bergen.

When compared to daytime workers, shift workers did not have a higher risk of getting infected.

Bjorvatn explains this by stating that the virus is highly contagious and that the overall infection rate is high.

“Shift workers are not likely to be exposed to more viruses than day workers,” he added.

However, once infected, shift workers had a nearly six-fold higher risk of being hospitalised due to Covid-19 than daytime workers, said the research.

This supports the hypothesis that lack of sleep negatively affects the immune system.

“Other studies show that the response to vaccination is poorer in sleep-deprived individuals. Therefore, shift workers should take their vaccines after a good night sleep,” Bjorvatn said.




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