Researchers develop a model to estimate Covid-19 severity and deaths

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on October 21, 2020

Researchers in England have developed a model that can calculate a person’s risk of contracting the coronavirus and getting critically affected by it.

The new research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and was published in BMJ and EurekAlert!

The researchers designed the model after using routine anonymised data from more than eight million adults in 1,205 general practices across England.

They considered several factors, including the person’s age, ethnicity, and existing medical conditions to predict their risk of infection and death due to Covid-19.

The authors of the study believe that their model can provide frontline health workers with more nuanced information about the risk of serious illness due to Covid-19.

This can further help patients reach a shared understanding of risk, within the context of individual circumstances, risk appetite, and the sorts of preventative measures people can take in their daily lives.

For the study, the researchers explored the factors that were associated with poor outcomes during the first wave of Covid-19.

They also used the collected data to create a risk prediction model — QCovid — that provides a weighted, cumulative calculation of risk using the variables associated with poor Covid-19 outcomes.

The factors incorporated in the model include age, sex, ethnicity, level of deprivation, obesity, whether someone lived in residential care or was homeless, and a range of existing medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, and cancer.

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Assessment outcomes

The findings revealed that the model performed well in predicting outcomes. People in the dataset whose calculated risk put them in the top 20 per cent of predicted risk of death accounted for 94 per cent of deaths from Covid-19.

Lead researcher Julia Hippisley-Cox, a general practitioner and Professor of Clinical Epidemiology and General Practice at University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, said: “Risk assessments to date have been based on the best evidence and clinical expertise, but have focussed largely on single factors.”

She added: “The QCovid risk model provides a much more nuanced assessment of risk by taking into account a number of different factors that are cumulatively used to estimate risk. This model will help inform clinical advice so that people can take proportionate precautions to protect themselves from Covid-19.”

Jonathan Valabhji, National Clinical Director for Diabetes and Obesity at NHS England, said in a statement: “Along with other characteristics like age and ethnicity, the evidence shows that both diabetes and obesity are risk factors for Covid-19.”

The researchers intend to regularly update their model as levels of immunity change.

The research team is led by the University of Oxford and includes researchers from the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Swansea, Leicester, Nottingham, and Liverpool among other deemed universities.

Published on October 21, 2020

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