Excess mortality among essential workers in England and Wales during the COVID-19 pandemic

Melissa Matz, Claudia Allemani, Martie van Tongeren, Vahé Nafilyan, Sarah Rhodes, Karin van Veldhoven, Lucy Pembrey, Michel P Coleman, Neil Pearce, Helen Kreissl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Exposure to SARS-CoV-2, subsequent development of COVID-19 and death from COVID-19 may vary by occupation, and the risks may be higher for those categorised as 'essential workers'. Methods We estimated excess mortality by occupational group and sex separately for each month in 2020 and for the entire 12 months overall. Results Mortality for all adults of working age was similar to the annual average over the previous 5 years. Monthly excess mortality peaked in April, when the number of deaths was 54.2% higher than expected and was lowest in December when deaths were 30.0% lower than expected. Essential workers had consistently higher excess mortality than other groups throughout 2020. There were also large differences in excess mortality between the categories of essential workers, with healthcare workers having the highest excess mortality and social care and education workers having the lowest. Excess mortality also varied widely between men and women, even within the same occupational group. Generally, excess mortality was higher in men.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)660-666
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Issue number7
Early online date25 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2022


  • COVID-19


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