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1.7M More People Told To Shield And 800,000 Moved Up Vaccine Priority List Due To New Modelling

The governmnet will tell another 1.7 million people to start shielding after new modelling of patient risk factors to coronavirus (PA)

3 min read

The government will tell another 1.7 million people at risk from the new Covid variant to start shielding as a result of new modelling of the disease.

The majority will have already been vaccinated due to their age or an underlying health issue, but the Department for Health and Social Care said around 800,000 will now be moved up the priority list to get a coronavirus jab.

Previously the NHS had made an assessment on whether somebody should shield based on if they suffered from one of a list of existing conditions, or how old they were.

But the University of Oxford was commissioned by England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty to study create a risk prediction algorithm that combines several lower risk health and personal factors, which taken together, put someone at serious risk from Covid-19.

Known as QCovid, it is thought to be the only such risk-prediction modelling tool in the world for this disease to meet the highest standards, and looks at a person’s ethnicity and BMI, as well as certain medical conditions and treatments, as well as where they live.

DHSC said up to 1.7 million patients have been identified and will be added to the Shielded Patient List “on a precautionary basis” and to enable rapid vaccination.

While those within this group who are over 70 will have already been invited for vaccination they estimate 820,000 adults aged between 19 and 69 years who fall into this category will now instructed to shield, and called in for a vaccine. 

They will be sent a letter from NHS England in the coming days explaining their risk factors may help identify them as high clinical risk and advises them to stay at home full-time, as well as being offered services such as medicines delivery and statutory sick pay.

As a result, the government is also extending the current shielding guidance for all those already identified as clinically extremely vulnerable, and the new patients identified through the QCovid model, until 31 March.

It had previously been extended until 21 February. The two million people already on the Shielded Patient List will receive an update letter this week to inform them of the extension.

England’s deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries said: “For the first time, we are able to go even further in protecting the most vulnerable in our communities.

“This new model is a tribute to our health and technology researchers. The model’s data-driven approach to medical risk assessment will help the NHS identify further individuals who may be at high risk from Covid-19 due to a combination of personal and health factors.

“This action ensures those most vulnerable to Covid-19 can benefit from both the protection that vaccines provide, and from enhanced advice, including shielding and support, if they choose it.”

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