In the article posted on BMJ news on the 20th April 2021, its claimed that up to 800,000 vulnerable people, shielding from COVID-19, did not receive adequate support, such as food parcels, owing to incomplete health records. This meant that local authorities, tasked with identifying those most at risk, could not contact many on the shielding list.
In response to the article, a letter was published on 28th April 2021 from the EVITE Immunity study group which highlights the British House of Commons Public Accounts Committee criticism of the criteria used to identify the clinically vulnerable COVID-19 shielding list, which it claims was largely assumption-based.
In the letter, The EVITE Immunity group also question the fundamental efficacy of ‘shielding’ as a means of preventing COVID-19 infection. The authors also point toward to other potential unintended consequences such as the harm caused by loneliness and delayed care for other health issues.
Led by Swansea University Medical School’s Professor Helen Snooks, the EVITE Immunity project has been commissioned by Birmingham University and involves collaborations with Cardiff University, Warwick University, Welsh Government and NHS Wales. The study will use SAIL Databank to study implementation costs, characteristics and routine outcomes using anonymised, population-scale, linked routine data for the 117,000 people identified in Wales for shielding.
Speaking previously, Professor Snooks commented,
“At the moment, we do not know how well shielding works. That’s what our study will aim to find out, using the anonymised data held here at Swansea in the SAIL Databank. Has shielding reduced COVID-19 infections, serious illness, deaths? Has it had any effects on immunity or harms such as isolation, anxiety, depression or delayed care for serious health problems? Knowing the answers to these questions is essential if we are to learn lessons for the future”.
EVITE Immunity is funded by Health Data Research UK’s (HDR UK’s) National Core Studies Immunity Programme.
This article response letter was submitted by the EVITE Immunity Research Management Group – Bridie Angela Evans; Ashley Akbari; Lesley Bethell; Andrew Carson-Stevens; Lucy Dixon; Ann John; Stephen Jolles; Ronan Lyons; Alison Porter; Bernie Sewell; Victoria Williams; Helen Snooks.