New research reveals that shielding may not have been effective

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NEW research from the University of Glasgow has revealed that shielding those at high risk may not have been fully effective.

The recent study, which was published in Scientific Reports discovered that during the first wave of the pandemic, those who were required to shied in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) experienced higher rates of infection compared to those who did not shield.

Shielding was used in Scotland to protect those against Covid-19 who were deemed as high risk.

Shielding was used to protect those deemed as high risk from Covid-19 - Scottish News
Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash
Shielding was used to protect those deemed as high risk from Covid-19.

The study viewed data from more than 1.3 million patients who were registered with GP practices in NHSGGC, of this group, 27,747 had to shield and 353,085 people did not have to shield but were at medium risk of the virus.

The researchers found that, compared to low-risk individuals, who made up 934,239 people, those who had been advised to shield were eight times more likely to have confirmed infections.

The authors also found that those shielding were five times more likely to die following infections whilst moderate-risk patients were four times more likely to have confirmed infections than the low-risk group.

In the shielded group, there were 1.1 per cent confirmed infections and 0.51 per cent deaths from Covid-19.

In the moderate risk group, there were 0.53 per cent confirmed infections and 0.23 per cent deaths. 

Those shielding were five times more likely to die from confirmed infections than those not shielding - Scottish News
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Those shielding were five times more likely to die from confirmed infections than those not shielding.

Professor Jill Pell, director of the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Health and Wellbeing, said: “Our study highlights that to effectively protect high-risk individuals, shielding should be used alongside other population-wide measures such as physical distancing, face coverings and hand hygiene. 

“Our study also showed that shielding may be of limited value in reducing burden on health services because, in spite of the shielding strategy, high risk individuals were at increased risk of death. We believe that to be effective as a population strategy, shielding criteria would have needed to be widely expanded to include other criteria, such as the elderly.”