News Release 

Does shielding the vulnerable from COVID19 work?

Funding for new study to assess evidence

Swansea University

Grant Announcement

Shielding vulnerable people has been central to the response to COVID-19, but how well does it work? A Swansea University research project has received funding to examine the evidence, to see what lessons can be learned for the future.

Working with the NHS, the researchers, from the University's Medical School, will consider how shielding affected deaths, hospital and intensive care admissions, COVID-19 infections, immunity status, safety, NHS costs, quality-of-life and how people complied with instructions.

Shielding was introduced to protect those thought to be at highest risk of serious harm should they catch COVID-19, for example because of preconditions such as cancer or medications that they were taking.

The team will be examining the situation in Wales, but as shielding policy was similar across the UK, their findings will be of relevance in other countries too.

In Wales, records for people who were shielded have already been anonymously linked into other integrated data systems.

The team will be reporting soon on the first phase of the research, in which they will describe the shielded population, recorded COVID-19 infections and existing immunity data.

With further funding they will then move to a full evaluation of the data, examining NHS records, questionnaire responses and blood test results at 12 months after shielding. They will compare shielded people with similar people not selected for shielding, and they will focus on subgroups such as those with cancer, black and minority ethnic groups, and people living in deprived communities. They will also interview shielded people and NHS staff about their experiences.

The project, which is called EVITE Immunity, is led by Professor Helen Snooks of Swansea University Medical School.

Professor Helen Snooks said:

"At the moment, we do not know how well shielding works. That's what our study will aim to find out, using the anonymised data held here at Swansea in the SAIL databank.

Has shielding reduced COVID-19 infections, serious illness, deaths? Has it had any effects on immunity or harms such as isolation, anxiety, depression or delayed care for serious health problems? Knowing the answers to these questions is essential if we are to learn lessons for the future".

The EVITE Immunity project has been commissioned by Birmingham University and involves collaborations with Cardiff University, Warwick University, Welsh Government and NHS Wales.

It has been funded through the National Core Studies Immunity Programme.

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Notes to editors

Swansea University is a world-class, research-led, dual campus university offering a first-class student experience and has one of the best employability rates of graduates in the UK. The University has the highest possible rating for teaching - the Gold rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) in 2018 and was commended for its high proportions of students achieving consistently outstanding outcomes.

Swansea climbed 14 places to 31st in the Guardian University Guide 2019, making us Wales' top ranked university, with one of the best success rates of graduates gaining employment in the UK and the same overall satisfaction level as the Number 1 ranked university.

The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 results saw Swansea make the 'biggest leap among research-intensive institutions' in the UK (Times Higher Education, December 2014) and achieved its ambition to be a top 30 research University, soaring up the league table to 26th in the UK.

The University is in the top 300 best universities in the world, ranked in the 251-300 group in The Times Higher Education World University rankings 2018. Swansea University now has 23 main partners, awarding joint degrees and post-graduate qualifications.

The University was established in 1920 and was the first campus university in the UK. It currently offers around 350 undergraduate courses and 350 postgraduate courses to circa 20,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students. The University has ambitious expansion plans as it moves towards its centenary in 2020 and aims to continue to extend its global reach and realise its domestic and international potential.

Swansea University is a registered charity. No.1138342. Visit http://www.swansea.ac.uk

For more information:

Kevin Sullivan, senior press officer, Swansea University k.g.sullivan@swansea.ac.uk

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