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Learning from a global pandemic
  1. Hans Kromhout
  1. Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Professor Hans Kromhout, Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands; h.kromhout{at}

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Taking on the job of Editor in Chief of Occupational and Environmental Medicine is a challenge, especially during a pandemic with enormous societal as well as environmental and occupational consequences. While we cannot fully anticipate the extent of these consequences, some lessons relevant for our research field and Occupational and Environmental Medicine are emerging.

Rapidly executed research on the effects of the pandemic has already shed light on the occurrence of occupational and environmental risks arising from of a global deadly virus. The consequences of globalisation, including immense transports of goods and people across the globe, have been highlighted.

In terms of occupational health research, the focus from the start of this pandemic has been on healthcare workers. Early results from the UK showed, however, that social care-workers’ death rate was twice that of healthcare workers looking after infected patients in hospital wards and intensive care units.1 Differences in availability and use of proper risk reduction measures (such as fit-tested respiratory devices) likely have played a major role. In addition, reports of (largely unprotected) bus drivers falling victim to the virus, as well as high infection rates in abattoirs and slaughterhouse in North America and Europe have been widely publicised.

Using standard information on frequency and intensity of interactions …

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  • Contributors The author conceptualised the idea and drafted this editorial.

  • Funding The author have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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