Socioeconomic inequalities and COVID-19 – A review of the current international literature. Additional material: Overview of the included publications
Social epidemiological research describes correlations between socioeconomic status and the population’s risk to become diseased or die. Little research of such correlations for SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 has so far been conducted. This scoping review provides an overview of the international research literature. Out of the 138 publications found, 46 were later included in the analysis. For the US and the UK, the reported findings indicate the presence of socioeconomic inequalities in infection risks as well as the severity of the course of the disease, with socioeconomically less privileged populations being hit harder. There are far fewer findings for Germany to date, as is the case for most other European countries. However, the scant evidence available so far already indicates that social inequalities are a factor in COVID-19. Most of these analyses have been ecological studies with only few studies considering socioeconomic inequalities at the individual level. Such studies at the individual level are particularly desirable as they could help to increase our understanding of the underlying pathways that lead to the development of inequalities in infection risks and the severity of disease and thereby could provide a basis to counteract the further exacerbation of health inequalities.