Yorkshire tech firm works with Oxford University to prioritise at risk Covid patients

A Yorkshire tech firm is working with Oxford University to give priority access to people most in need of the coronavirus vaccine.

Dr Shaun O’Hanlon, chief medical officer at Emis

People who are at high risk from Covid-19 will be bumped up the list following research using the QResearch database, a not-for-profit initiative between Leeds-based Emis and Oxford University.

NHS England has announced that the QCovid model developed by Oxford University researchers is being used to create a population-wide risk assessment to prioritise patients most at risk for vaccination and support.

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The research was commissioned by England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and funded by the National Institute of Health Research.

It found that there are several health and personal factors which could mean someone is at a higher risk from Covid-19. These include age, ethnicity and body mass index, as well as certain medical conditions and treatments.

Oxford University turned its research into a risk prediction model called QCovid, and NHS Digital used this to develop a population risk assessment.

Up to 1.5 million patients have been identified. Approximately 700,000 will have already been vaccinated as part of the over-70s cohort, and an additional 800,000 adults between 19 and 69 years will now be prioritised for a vaccination.

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

"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.”

Sarah Wilkinson, chief executive of NHS Digital, 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."

The QCovid model was developed using anonymised data for more than eight million adults from the QResearch database, which uses patient data contributed by GPs using Emis systems. The research to develop and validate the model is published in the British Medical Journal.

Dr Shaun O’Hanlon, chief medical officer at Emis, said: “Emis is proud to have supported this important piece of research, which will enable the NHS to protect more vulnerable people, more quickly, from Covid-19.

“We thank all of the GP practices who have contributed anonymised patient data to the QResearch database over the 15 years it has been in existence.

"To be able to create this new risk model for Covid-19 less than a year since the start of the pandemic is a truly fantastic achievement.”