April 12, 2021

Kunal Sawhney: Government’s Extra Boost, Predictive Modelling Likely to Bolster Fight Against Covid

Written by Kunal Sawhney, CEO, Kalkine Group

The coronavirus pandemic has now been a year-long event with the Boris Johnson government, as well as local authorities struggling to contain the spread of the virus and handling the severe cases. In a bid to tackle the upcoming challenges of the pandemic as the country prepares to remove the nationwide lockdown, the UK government has recently directed additional monetary support to the respective administrations of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales.

Additional aid

The Scottish, Welsh governments, and the Northern Ireland Executive are expected to receive extra support of £1.1 billion, £650 million, and £300 million, respectively. The fund has been primarily allocated to support the businesses, public services and people affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

With the recent stimulus, the Scottish, Welsh, and Irish counterparts have separately received a total monetary aid to the tune of £9.7 billion, £5.85 billion, and £3.3 billion, respectively, since the onset of pandemic through the Barnett formula. As per the government directives, the funding support sanctioned can be carried over to spend in the next fiscal year or the complete amount can be spent within the current year.

Conclusively, the proportion of funds that are not utilised in the present financial year can be carried into 2021-22 on top of their extant tools to transfer funding between the years.

Comprehensive support

The size and scale of the coronavirus pandemic has unconditionally forced the governments and regional authorities to work collectively as the mutated strain of the virus has once again furthered the rate of infection. Therefore, the periodic monetary support packages alongside the ongoing vaccination programme at the national level are required to combat the repercussions of pandemic with the authorities readying an exit plan from the nationwide lockdown.

Identifying vulnerable patients

In order to make the immunisation process more dynamic, the researchers have introduced a new technology that would assist the clinicians in identifying a new cohort of people who
may be at high risk from Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) virus. In a first, the clinicians will be using predictive risk models to gauge the adults who are more vulnerable to Covid-19.

With the help of predictive risk models, more than 800,000 adults will be prioritised to receive the jab as a part of JCVI-recommended priority groups. The predictive technology is formulated on the basis of the past medical records under which it analyses a combination of risk factors to assess the vulnerability of a patient. A vaccine will be administered on priority to all the individuals who are more vulnerable than previously recorded.

Prioritising patients

The University of Oxford has transformed their research into a risk-prediction model. The model has been separately validated by the Office for National Statistics. After the identification of vulnerable patients, all such individuals are added to the Shielded Patient List to expedite their vaccination process on a precautionary basis.

The individuals, identified to be more vulnerable, will be given appropriate advice and support alongside an early vaccination. With the predictive modelling technology, the healthcare officials and clinicians have already identified up to 1.7 million patients possessing more vulnerability to Covid-19. People over the age of 70 years have already been contacted for the first dose of vaccine with 820,000 adults between the age group of 19 and 69 years being prioritised for the inoculation.

The combined correlation between several personal and health factors including the ethnicity, age, any ongoing treatment, specific medical conditions, and body mass index can help in identifying the people who are at a higher risk from Covid-19, the research stated.  The University of Oxford’s model to develop a population risk assessment has been used by the National Health Service (NHS) Digital.

The research

The University of Oxford-led research involving predictive modelling of patients is commissioned by England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, developed by a subgroup of New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG), and funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). With the continuous monitoring of more vulnerable patients, the healthcare authorities can certainly minimise the rate of fatality by providing vaccines to the most needy.