Disadvantaged socioeconomic position (SEP) is widely associated with disease and mortality, and there is no reason to think this will not be the case for the newly emerged coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that has reached a pandemic level. Individuals with a more disadvantaged SEP are more likely to be affected by most of the known risk factors of COVID-19. SEP has been previously established as a potential determinant of infectious diseases in general. We hypothesise that SEP plays an important role in the COVID-19 pandemic either directly or indirectly via occupation, living conditions, health-related behaviours, presence of comorbidities and immune functioning. However, the influence of socioeconomic factors on COVID-19 transmission, severity and outcomes is not yet known and is subject to scrutiny and investigation. Here we briefly review the extent to which SEP has been considered as one of the potential risk factors of COVID-19. From 29 eligible studies that reported the characteristics of patients with COVID-19 and their potential risk factors, only one study reported the occupational position of patients with mild or severe disease. This brief overview of the literature highlights that important socioeconomic characteristics are being overlooked when data are collected. As COVID-19 spreads worldwide, it is crucial to collect and report data on socioeconomic determinants as well as race/ethnicity to identify high-risk populations. A systematic recording of socioeconomic characteristics of patients with COVID-19 will be beneficial to identify most vulnerable groups, to identify how SEP relates to COVID-19 and to develop equitable public health prevention measures, guidelines and interventions.
- Social inequalities
- Social epidemiology
- Health inequalities
- Life course epidemiology
- Longitudinal studies
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Contributors SKS and MKI drafted all versions of the manuscript, SKS carried out the literature review, and RC and CD drafted the manuscript and provided edits.
Funding SKS is supported by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (Project number CE170100005). The funder had no role in study design, data collection, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript. This work was also part of a project funded by the Agence National de Recherche Flash-Covid grant and Région Occitanie.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Data sharing statement Data are available upon reasonable request.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
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