The Swedish Public Health Agency, in collaboration with the Department of Public Health Sciences and the Department of Cultural Geography at Stockholm University, has analyzed the risk of people requiring intensive care (IVA care) with COVID-19 based on the type of region they live in. The analysis period covers March 2020 to June 2021. Eight different types of domains have been identified based on, among other things, employment level, education level, income and country of birth.

The results show that there is a relationship between the type of area an individual lives in and the severity of their need for IVA care with covid-19 during the pandemic.

The relative risk was lower in sparsely populated areas and in densely populated areas with good socioeconomic economies in and around major cities. In densely populated areas with a high proportion of the population living in relative poverty and a high proportion of foreign-borns, the risk was approximately three times greater than in areas where the risk was lower. These areas are found mainly on the outskirts of large cities and in and around central cities in rural areas.

Social status and characteristics in the environment were important and above all related to the ability to maintain a distance between yourself and others. The opportunity to work from home was of great importance to reduce the number of contacts outside the home. At the same time, conditions such as overcrowding and multi-generational housing in some residential areas have managed to exacerbate the spread of infection, says Lisa Brewers, acting chief of department at the Swedish Public Health Agency.

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Differences in the risk of needing IVA care with covid-19 remained although they decreased over time. The decrease may be due to infection control measures. Other possible explanations may be that the characteristics of the virus have changed over time or that immunity after succumbing to infection and vaccination has become more evenly distributed across the population over time.

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