Academic researchers have created a new COVID-19 model to calculate a person’s risk of falling severely ill from the virus. Could you be affected? What are the risk factors?
Anonymous data was collated from more than eight million adults across 1,205 general practices across England.
The algorithm was based upon primary care, hospitals, COVID-19 test results and death registries during the first wave of the pandemic.
The new model also took into account risk factors such as: age, ethnicity, level of deprivation, obesity, and existing medical conditions.
Existing medical conditions included cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory disease and cancer.
Together, this data was utilised to create the “QCovid” tool, which provided weighted, cumulative calculation of risk.
The QCovid algorithm was tested in two independent sets of data, from January to April 2020 and from May 2020 to June 2020.
A team of researchers ran the tool to see whether or not it could accurately predict severe outcomes when falling ill from COVID-19 – and it did.
The results were recorded in the British Medical Journal, published on Wednesday, October 21.
To illustrate, the algorithm correctly identified the top 20 percent most at risk of death from the notorious disease.
This predication was found to be highly accurate, as the identified risk group accounted for 94 percent of COVID mortality.
Lead researcher Professor Julia Hippisley-Cox, a GP and professor of clinical epidemiology, commented on the findings.
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“Risk assessments to date have been based on the best evidence and clinical expertise, but have focused largely on single factors,” she said.
“The QCovid risk model provides a much more nuanced assessment of risk,” she added.
Dr Hippisley-Cox explained the QCovid tool does this by “taking into account a number of different factors that are cumulatively used to estimate risk”.
She continued: “This model will help inform clinical advice so that people can take proportionate precautions to protect themselves from COVID-19.”
Moving forward, the researchers plan to regularly update the model as more data on the disease becomes available.
The work was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and commissioned by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England.
Deputy CMO for England Dr Jenny Harries said: “Continuing to improve our understanding of the virus and how it affects different members of the population is vital as prevalence continues to rise.
“This is why we commissioned and funded this research, and I’m pleased it is providing useful.”
COVID-19 risk factors
The NHS have grouped people either as “clinically extremely vulnerable” to “clinically vulnerable” to the virus.
Those in the first grouping – otherwise known as “high risk” – may be undergoing targeted cancer treatments.
People in the second grouping (i.e. “moderate risk”) includes those who have diabetes.
For a full list of all health conditions considered on either risk category, click here.