How Socioeconomic Data Collection Can Strengthen the COVID-19 Response

Thomas, S.
Publication language
Date published
01 Apr 2021
COVID-19, Epidemics & pandemics, Health, Reduced Inequality (SDG), Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG)
Evidence Aid

The impact of social determinants of health (SDOH) in the progression and health outcomes of infectious diseases has been evidenced in recent years. The World Health Organisation (WHO) lists poverty, social exclusion, poor housing, and deficient health systems among the main social causes of ill health. The newly emerged coronavirus infection (COVID-19) is no exception to this, as suggested by the growing body of evidence. For example, people experiencing homelessness run a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission owing to crowded living spaces and poor access to screening and testing facilities, especially in cities where there are large numbers of homeless people.

To understand the SDOH and related inequalities in the context of COVID-19, robust data collection of socioeconomic data, including race/ethnicity and gender, is imperative. A rapid review published in May 2020 makes a case for systematic recording of socioeconomic characteristics of patients with COVID-19, and treating them on par with clinical data. This would better inform public health prevention measures and interventions, which might greatly benefit vulnerable groups.

Socioeconomic position (SEP) data such as occupation, income and education can help in predicting the evolution of the disease in communities, and effectively prevent its transmission. The working conditions of people with disadvantaged SEP are prone to be stressful, which may adversely affect their immune system and make this group more susceptible to COVID-19.

Thomas, S.