Comparison of COVID-19 outcomes among shielded and non-shielded populations: A general population cohort study of 1.3 million

Bhautesh Jani, Frederick Ho, David Lowe, Jamie Traynor, Sean MacBride-Stewart, Patrick Mark, Frances Mair, Jill Pell

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Received date: 30th October 2020

Many western countries used shielding (extended self-isolation) of people presumed to be at high-risk from COVID-19 to protect them and reduce healthcare demand. To investigate the effectiveness of this strategy, we linked family practitioner, prescribing, laboratory, hospital and death records and compared COVID-19 outcomes among shielded and non-shielded individuals in the West of Scotland. Of the 1.3 million population, 27,747 (2.03%) were advised to shield, and 353,085 (26.85%) were classified a priori as moderate risk. COVID-19 testing was more common in the shielded (7.01%) and moderate risk (2.03%) groups, than low risk (0.73%). Referent to low-risk, the shielded group had higher confirmed infections (RR 8.45, 95% 7.44-9.59), case-fatality (RR 5.62, 95% CI 4.47-7.07) and population mortality (RR 57.56, 95% 44.06-75.19). The moderate-risk had intermediate confirmed infections (RR 4.11, 95% CI 3.82-4.42) and population mortality (RR 25.41, 95% CI 20.36-31.71) but, due to their higher prevalence, made the largest contribution to deaths (PAF 75.30%). Age ³70 years accounted for 49.55% of deaths. In conclusion, shielding has not been effective at preventing deaths in individuals at high risk. Also, to be effective as a population strategy, shielding criteria would need to be widely expanded to include other criteria, such as the elderly.

Read in full at medRxiv.

This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on a preprint server, which is currently undergoing peer review at Scientific Reports. The findings have yet to be thoroughly evaluated, nor has a decision on ultimate publication been made. Therefore, the results reported should not be considered conclusive, and these findings should not be used to inform clinical practice, or public health policy, or be promoted as verified information.

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