Additional cohort of patients identified as at high risk from COVID-19


Last week NHSE/I wrote to inform you about an additional cohort that had been identified by a new COVID-19 predictive risk assessment (QCovid®). This model combines a number of factors, including ethnicity and deprivation, to estimate a person’s risk from becoming seriously unwell from COVID-19. These patients have now been prioritised for vaccination and added to the Shielded Patient List. 

A letter was sent to GPs which contains important information about how this group has been identified and how they should be prioritised for vaccination, as well as the advice they should follow.

Patients identified by QCOVID® in the first cohort (aged 19-69) should now be visible in all GP systems, and have been sent a notification letter centrally. Patients identified in the second cohort (mainly those aged over 70) will start to receive letters and emails from Wednesday 24 February and high-risk flags will begin to appear against these people in GP IT systems from the same day. If any of these patients have not yet been offered vaccination, particularly those aged over 70, we encourage you to ensure that they receive one as soon as possible.

We have been made aware of concerns that some women with previous gestational diabetes have been advised to shield via the QCovid process. This will be appropriate for many as the model performs an individual assessment based on a wide range of risk factors, and also considers an individual’s risk in comparison to others of the same age and sex. In addition, where data (e.g. on ethnicity or body mass index) are incomplete the risk tool may default to a higher level for that category, which may influence the overall results. However, an active review to look at this group is now underway and further information will be communicated as soon as it is available.  

GPs can evaluate a patient’s risk with the most up to date information using the clinical tool and remove them from the Shielded Patient List if necessary.

As outlined in the letter sent to GPs last week shielding advice has been extended until 31 March. Last week the Government wrote to the existing cohort of 2.3m individuals on the Shielded Patient List to inform them of this extension. The new cohorts identified through the QCovid model, have already been advised to shield until the same date.