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Project #150:
Evaluating the UK ‘shielding’ policy during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Type: Research
  • Topic areas: COVID transmission/prevalence/non-pharmaceutical prevention and Risk from COVID (short term) [e.g. hospitalisation/death]

A considerable proportion of the UK population suffers from long-term health conditions. During the COVID epidemic, a broad range of such conditions (comorbidities) contributed to very severe outcomes (hospitalisation and death) in people infected with the corona virus.

The 2020 shielding policy aimed to protect people at greater risk by asking them to reduce sharply their contact with other people and thus reduce their risk of becoming infected. This public health policy has not been evaluated and this study aims to do so using OpenSAFELY records on patient GP and hospital information on COVID and comorbidities.

The study will implement a novel combination of OpenSAFELY records with a dynamic model of corona virus transmission in the population. This approach accounts for the fast changes in the rate of infection that occurred as the epidemic spread; it also accounts for differing rates among locations, among age groups, and between people with or without comorbidities.

Comparing the actual epidemic with a modelling scenario where the shielding policy would not have taken place, we hope to estimate how many severe outcomes may have been averted by the shielding policy during 2020-21, and to so by age group in the population and NHS region in England.


  • Study leads: Johnny Filipe
  • Organisation: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine