As the days go by, the coronavirus pandemic’s grip on the world becomes tighter. The virus that originated in Wuhan, China in December 2019 has infected more than a million people. It has also claimed the lives of nearly 60,000 people. At the beginning of the pandemic, public perception was that the virus only infected people over 60+. Since then, many public health agencies have come forward to say that age does not affect an individual’s chances of getting the virus.
However, there are various factors that do affect these chances. An individual’s immunity, their socio-economic conditions, gender, and now, their profession.
HOW DOES PROFESSION MAKE PEOPLE MORE VULNERABLE TO CORONAVIRUS?
Autonomy, an economics think tank, conducted a study to ascertain at-risk groups during the pandemic.
The study found that low-paid women are at high risk of exposure to the virus. This is because they are likely to be in jobs that put them in contact with individuals who are infected. These are professions such as social care, nursing and pharmacy. According to Autonomy, 2.5 million workers out of the 3.2 million employed in the highest-risk roles are women. Moreover, nearly one million of those workers are at the highest risk because of close contact with the public and people with the infection.
Furthermore, 89% of nurses and 84% of care workers are women.
Another problem that these workers face is that they are underpaid. This falls true for all professions that are being considered “essential workers” during the pandemic. All corporate employees have been asked to work from home. However, grocery shop staff, pharmacy staff, medical staff have been asked to continue working.
Almost all “essential workers” are paid less than they should be. The general argument for paying them low wages is that their work is not as important to the economy. However, this pandemic has revealed that without these workers, a country cannot function.
“This study has shown not only that many of these occupations are at a high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus, but that are often paid at poverty wages and are carried out overwhelmingly by women. It is about time we pay these workers properly for the valuable work they do,” said Will Stronge, the director of Autonomy.