Introduction: Evidence from previous pandemics, and the current COVID-19 pandemic, has found that risk of infection/severity of disease is disproportionately higher for ethnic minority groups, and those in lower socioeconomic positions. It is imperative that interventions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are targeted towards high-risk populations. We will investigate the associations between social characteristics (such as ethnicity, occupation and socioeconomic position) and COVID-19 outcomes and the extent to which characteristics/risk factors might explain observed relationships in Scotland. The primary objective of this study is to describe the epidemiology of COVID-19 by social factors. Secondary objectives are to (1) examine receipt of treatment and prevention of COVID-19 by social factors; (2) quantify ethnic/social differences in adverse COVID-19 outcomes; (3) explore potential mediators of relationships between social factors and SARS-CoV-2 infection/COVID-19 prognosis; (4) examine whether occupational COVID-19 differences differ by other social factors and (5) assess quality of ethnicity coding within National Health Service datasets. Methods and analysis: We will use a national cohort comprising the adult population of Scotland who completed the 2011 Census and were living in Scotland on 31 March 2020 (~4.3 million people). Census data will be linked to the Early Assessment of Vaccine and Anti-Viral Effectiveness II cohort consisting of primary/secondary care, laboratory data and death records. Sensitivity/specificity and positive/negative predictive values will be used to assess coding quality of ethnicity. Descriptive statistics will be used to examine differences in treatment and prevention of COVID-19. Poisson/Cox regression analyses and mediation techniques will examine ethnic and social differences, and drivers of inequalities in COVID-19. Effect modification (on additive and multiplicative scales) between key variables (such as ethnicity and occupation) will be assessed. Ethics and dissemination: Ethical approval was obtained from the National Research Ethics Committee, South East Scotland 02. We will present findings of this study at international conferences, in peer-reviewed journals and to policy-makers.
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