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Abstract

Background

We anticipated that people in rural areas and small towns with lower population density, lower connectivity and jobs less dependent on social interaction will be less exposed to COVID-19. Still, other variables correlated with socioeconomic inequalities may have a greater impact on transmission.

Aim

We investigated how COVID-19 affected rural and urban communities in Poland, focussing on the most exposed groups and disparities in SARS-CoV-2 transmission.

Methods

A random digit dial sample of Polish adults stratified by region and age was drawn from 29 March to 14 May 2021. Serum samples were tested for anti-S1 and anti-N IgG antibodies, and positive results in both assays were considered indicative of past infection. Seroprevalence estimates were weighted to account for non-response. Adjusted odds ratios (AORs) were calculated using multivariable logistic regression.

Results

There was serological evidence of infection in 32.2% (95% CI: 30.2–34.4) of adults in rural areas/small towns (< 50,000 population) and 26.6% (95% CI: 24.9–28.3) in larger cities. Regional SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence ranged from 23.4% (95% CI: 18.3–29.5) to 41.0% (95% CI: 33.5–49.0) and was moderately positively correlated (R = 0.588; p = 0.017; n = 16) with the proportion of respondents living in rural areas or small cities. Upon multivariable adjustment, both men (AOR = 1.60; 95% CI: 1.09–2.35) and women (AOR = 2.26; 95% CI: 1.58–3.21) from these areas were more likely to be seropositive than residents of larger cities.

Conclusions

We found an inverse urban–rural gradient of SARS-CoV-2 infections during early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in Poland and suggest that vulnerabilities of populations living in rural areas need to be addressed.

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/content/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2023.28.35.2200745
2023-08-31
2024-02-22
http://instance.metastore.ingenta.com/content/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2023.28.35.2200745
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