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OBJECTIVE: To describe and synthesise studies of SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence by occupation prior to the widespread vaccine roll-out. METHODS: We identified studies of occupational seroprevalence from a living systematic review (PROSPERO CRD42020183634). Electronic databases, grey literature and news media were searched for studies published during January-December 2020. Seroprevalence estimates and a free-text description of the occupation were extracted and classified according to the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) 2010 system using a machine-learning algorithm. Due to heterogeneity, results were synthesised narratively. RESULTS: We identified 196 studies including 591 940 participants from 38 countries. Most studies (n=162; 83%) were conducted locally versus regionally or nationally. Sample sizes were generally small (median=220 participants per occupation) and 135 studies (69%) were at a high risk of bias. One or more estimates were available for 21/23 major SOC occupation groups, but over half of the estimates identified (n=359/600) were for healthcare-related occupations. 'Personal Care and Service Occupations' (median 22% (IQR 9-28%); n=14) had the highest median seroprevalence. CONCLUSIONS: Many seroprevalence studies covering a broad range of occupations were published in the first year of the pandemic. Results suggest considerable differences in seroprevalence between occupations, although few large, high-quality studies were done. Well-designed studies are required to improve our understanding of the occupational risk of SARS-CoV-2 and should be considered as an element of pandemic preparedness for future respiratory pathogens.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

Publication Date





COVID-19, occupational & industrial medicine, public health, Humans, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, Seroepidemiologic Studies, Algorithms, Occupations