Full list of people who have to shield as 1.7million more classed as vulnerable

A further 1.7 million people across the nation have been advised to remain indoors following the expansion of the list of people deemed vulnerable from COVID-19.

The NHS are gearing up to send millions of letters to patients in the next few weeks which will in turn allow them to move further up the queue in their vaccine priority group.

Originally, advice from the government was for all vulnerable people to shield until February 21 – this has since been extended until March 31.

These huge changes to the current shielding schedule were announced by the Department of Health and Social Care.

Why has the shielding list been expanded?

The previous shielding list was made up of people who had single risk underlying health conditions, such as various cancers, people on immunosuppression drugs or those with severe respiratory conditions.

However, in recent weeks medical experts have identified certain people who are at even higher risk as a result of multiple health risk factors.

NHS Digital and Oxford University researchers have analysed data on those hospitalised or who died during the pandemic as a means of determining who among the general population is most at risk.

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The findings of this data has meant a further 1.7 million people will join the 2 million already on the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ shielding list.

The computer model – called QCovid, is set to only affect England rather than the entirety of the UK at this stage. Using medical records, the new system determines which people are at higher risk based on a variety of factors such as age, ethnicity, body mass index (BMI) as well as other health conditions. Even one's postcode is taken into consideration, as a means of identifying levels of deprivation.

Due to the structure of the new model, there is no clear set list of conditions which would require one to shield, meaning instead people will simply have to wait and see if they receive a letter from the NHS.

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Out of the 1.7 million patients identified by QCovid, almost 900,000 are over 70, ensuring they will have already been invited for a vaccination.

Once the letters are sent, there will officially be just under 4 million people in England alone who have been requested to shield.

820,000 adults aged between 19 and 69 years will now be the next priority group in line for a vaccination. Due to their relatively low age and their shielding status, this group will also be prioritised for free shopping deliveries and will be guaranteed to receive statutory sick pay.

The new modelling is so advanced that GPs will actually be able to give individuals tailored advice based on their risk level.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Dr Jenny Harries has spoken of her delight at the breakthrough: “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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The bulk of the advise around shielding is focused on not going out to work and get others to do your shopping.

Though they can still meet one other person outside at a safe distance for exercise, they have been advised to not meet anyone outside their support bubble and try to stay two metres away from people even within their household as a precaution.

Who is required to shield?

Those who qualify for some of the most high-risk strategies are:

  • Solid organ transplant recipients
  • People with cancer who are undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy
  • People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma
  • People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months
  • People on immunosuppression drugs
  • Pregnant women who have heart disease
  • People with severe respiratory conditions including cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and COPD
  • Some people with rare diseases such as severe combined immunodeficiency
  • Adults with Down’s syndrome
  • Adults on dialysis or with stage 5 chronic kidney disease

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Chief executive of NHS Digital Sarah Wilkinson said: “I’m very pleased that NHS Digital has been able to deliver the platform to allow the QCovid model to be used to identify individuals vulnerable to COVID-19 as a result of combinations of clinical risk factors and personal characteristics.

“This extends the work we did last year to develop the Shielded Patients List, which included individuals with one of a number of specific clinical conditions.

“It is a privilege to be able to support the Chief Medical Officer and his team in their quest to deliver the most sophisticated COVID-19 risk prediction capability.”

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