It’s been nearly a year since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic. While many facets of everyday life have yet to return to normal, we are optimistic about the path forward. Vaccine distribution to the highest-priority groups is underway and efforts to better understand the virus and effectively treat and prevent it continue.
We are committed to doing our part and last April, Ancestry® launched a COVID-19 study to explore potential genetic and environmental associations to the virus and its outcomes*. One of the significant learnings is that preventive measures varied across populations and specifically from workers employed in different settings. Self-reported data from people working in a diversity of industries, such as healthcare, construction, government, childcare and more, revealed how COVID-19 testing rates, exposure and test positivity rates differed by occupation.
Examining COVID-19 exposure rate and the rate of test positivity showed that healthcare workers are most likely to report being exposed to COVID-19 (78.1%) (figure 1). However, their test positivity rate is similar to other occupations. Childcare/caregiving professionals also exhibit a notably lower test positivity rate (5.8%), which is about half that of any other occupation we asked about.
Reported reasons for getting tested vary among occupations. While it is not surprising that healthcare workers report the highest rates of testing, their primary reason for getting tested is a requirement by their workplace (27.5%). Healthcare workers also say that COVID-19 symptoms (24.9%) and known COVID-19 exposure (24.9%) (figure 2) drive them to get tested. People who work in other occupations were more likely to report “peace of mind” as a rationale for getting tested (figures 3-4).
Thanks to more than 750,000 Ancestry customers who volunteered to participate in our study, we have been able to examine risk factors and behaviors associated with virus outcomes, and will continue to provide insights to help advance the public’s evolving knowledge of COVID-19. We will continue to share research data with qualified researchers in organizations, including NGOs, public health agencies, and academic and pharmaceutical research groups at no cost in order to empower researchers and help guide the path to a better future.
*The Ancestry COVID-19 Study provides a self-reported dataset that contains information about a plethora of risk factors in the context of COVID-19 susceptibility and severity outcomes. Although we have been collecting data since April 2020, the data for analysis presented here was collected in the U.S. between July 21 and August 3, 2020. The results presented here are strictly from self-reported data and are associations, not causal inferences and may reflect differences in behaviors, SES, and/or healthcare access between those who report wearing masks and those who do not. This data is about reported preventative behaviors, which we can not verify.