Doctors can now predict how likely their patient is to die or be hospitalized from Covid-19 using a new tool, Report says, citing BMJ.
Researchers said the Oxford University experts' model could help devise a more targeted shielding program during the second wave of the pandemic.
The tool — called QCOVID — found just the five percent of the most at-risk account for 95 percent of all deaths.
It suggests efforts to protect this proportion of the population — for example, by regularly testing anyone they come into contact with — would significantly reduce the UK's overall death rate while allowing the rest of society to return to normal.
Experts say the model, which considers age, ethnicity, underlying health conditions, and weight, is currently being evaluated to see if the NHS can use it.
The aim is that the algorithm will be used by GPs to identify which of their patients need to be protected most. But it could also be used to encourage obese people to lose weight to reduce their risk of Covid-19 in the future.
The academics hope it will be useful for drawing up a priority list for vaccines before one becomes available, considering there is unlikely to be enough doses to cater for everyone.
Their work, published in the British Medical Journal, proves their tool is 'robust' and successful in predicting who may die if they catch the coronavirus. It was tested using data from millions of patients during the first wave of the pandemic.
The tool's research was commissioned by England's Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty, who wants to make shielding advice more targeted to the population.