Scientists from Manchester University have discovered that patients are up to three times more likely to test positive for Covid 19 in hospital if they were shift workers during their career.
Researchers used data from UK Biobank - the world’s largest biomedical database.
It showed that shift work increased the likelihood of testing positive for COVID-19 in hospitalised patients 2-3 fold, depending on the nature of shift work.
Though there are several known risk factors for COVID-19, they do not always explain why COVID-19 outbreaks happen in factories or healthcare settings which is why they investigated the role of shift work.
It is estimated that around a quarter of the UK workforce do some kind of shift work.
The type of shift work or type of occupation didn’t seem to affect the association
Over half a million people were enrolled in the UK Biobank. Of these 6,442 were tested for COVID-19 in hospital resulting in 498 positive tests between March and August 2020.
In those that had positive tests, 316 did not work shifts, 98 worked irregular shifts and 84 worked permanent shifts, totalling 182.
The shift workers were 2.5 to 3 times more likely to be positive with COVID-19 than non-shift workers in those that were hospitalised.
Researchers are still trying to find out why irregular workers are more likely to test positive.