New technology has been introduced in England to help clinicians identify a new group of people who may be at high risk from COVID-19 for the first time.
Over 800,000 adults will now be prioritised to receive a vaccine as part of the current vaccination cohorts. The technology analyses a combination of risk factors based on medical records, to assess whether somebody may be more vulnerable than was previously understood, helping clinicians provide vaccination more quickly to them and ensuring patients can benefit from additional advice and support.
‘For the first time, we are able to go even further in protecting the most vulnerable in our communities,’ said Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Dr Jenny Harries.
‘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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The move comes as it was announced that an extra 1.7 million people are expected to be added to the 2.3 million already on the list. This group will be sent a letter from NHS England in the coming days explaining that their risk factors may help identify them as high clinical risk and that they are included within the support and advice for the clinically extremely vulnerable. They will be invited to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible if they have not already had the jab, and will be given advice on precautionary measures, including shielding where this is current advice.
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‘The BMA has long highlighted the fact that people from an ethnic minority background, especially with underlying conditions, are at high risk of death from COVID-19 and that those from poorer areas are also twice as likely to die from this terrible disease. Both of these groups are now included in this new QCovid risk tool,’ said BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul.
‘Many of these patients fall outside of the current JCVI priority groups for the Covid vaccine and so it is now vitally important that these patients are prioritised for vaccination and urgently protected against the deadly effects of COVID-19.’