News Release

Risk of long COVID higher for people living in most deprived areas

Peer-Reviewed Publication

University of Southampton

New research led by the universities of Southampton and Oxford has found that the risk of long COVID is strongly associated with area-level deprivation, with the odds of having long COVID 46 percent higher for people from the most deprived areas, compared to those in the least deprived areas.

Published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, the study analysed over 200,000 working-age adults and is the first to quantify the association between long COVID and socioeconomic status across a range of occupation sectors.

Analysing data from the Office for National Statistics COVID-19 Infection Survey, the researchers found that females had a higher risk of long COVID, with the risk of long COVID in females in the least deprived areas comparable to that in males in the most deprived areas.

People living in the most deprived areas and working in the healthcare and education sectors had the highest risk of long COVID compared to the least deprived areas. There was no significant association between the risk of long COVID and the most and least deprived areas for people working in the manufacturing and construction sectors.

Lead researcher Dr Nazrul Islam, of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Southampton and Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford, said: “Although certain occupational groups, especially frontline and essential workers, have been unequally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, studies on long COVID and occupation are sparse.

“Our findings are consistent with pre-pandemic research on other health conditions, suggesting that workers with lower socioeconomic status have poorer health outcomes and higher premature mortality than those with higher socioeconomic position but a similar occupation. However, the socioeconomic inequality may vary considerably by occupation groups.”

According to the researchers, the study indicates the need for a diverse range of public health interventions after recovery from COVID-19 across multiple intersecting social dimensions. Future health policy recommendations, they say, should incorporate the multiple dimensions of inequality, such as sex, deprivation and occupation when considering the treatment and management of long COVID.

Dr Islam added: “The inequalities shown in this study show that such an approach can provide more precise identification of risks and be relevant to other diseases and beyond the pandemic.

“These findings will help inform health policy in identifying the most vulnerable sub-groups of populations so that more focused efforts are given, and proportional allocation of resources are implemented, to facilitate the reduction of health inequalities.”


Notes to editors

  1. Socioeconomic inequalities of long COVID: a retrospective population-based cohort study in the United Kingdom (DOI: 10.1177/01410768231168377) by Sharmin Shabnam, Cameron Razieh, Hajira Dambha-Miller, Tom Yates, Clare Gillies, Yogini V Chudasama, Manish Pareek, Amitava Banerjee, Ichiro Kawachi, Ben Lacey, Eva JA Morris, Martin White, Francesco Zaccardi, Kamlesh Khunti and Nazrul Islam will be published by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine at 00:05 hrs (UK time) on Thursday 11 May 2023. The link for the full text of the paper when published will be:
  2. For further information or a copy of the paper please contact:

    Peter Franklin, Media Relations, University of Southampton +44 23 8059 3212 or

    Rosalind Dewar Media Office, Royal Society of Medicine +44 (0) 1580 764713 M: +44 (0) 7785 182732
  3. The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (JRSM) is a leading voice in the UK and internationally for medicine and healthcare. Published continuously since 1809, JRSM features scholarly comment and clinical research. JRSM is editorially independent from the Royal Society of Medicine, and its editor is Professor Kamran Abbasi. JRSM is a journal of the Royal Society of Medicine and it is published by SAGE Publishing. Sara Miller McCune founded SAGE Publishing in 1965 to support the dissemination of usable knowledge and educate a global community. SAGE is a leading international provider of innovative, high-quality content publishing more than 1000 journals and over 800 new books each year, spanning a wide range of subject areas. A growing selection of library products includes archives, data, case studies and video. SAGE remains majority owned by our founder and after her lifetime will become owned by a charitable trust that secures the company’s continued independence. Principal offices are located in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC and Melbourne.
  4. The University of Southampton drives original thinking, turns knowledge into action and impact, and creates solutions to the world’s challenges. We are among the top 100 institutions globally (QS World University Rankings 2023). Our academics are leaders in their fields, forging links with high-profile international businesses and organisations, and inspiring a 22,000-strong community of exceptional students, from over 135 countries worldwide. Through our high-quality education, the University helps students on a journey of discovery to realise their potential and join our global network of over 200,000 alumni.

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