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Millions more people are finally shielding from Covid. Why did it take so long? | Frances Ryan

Members of a high-risk group have had to fend for themselves in the pandemic because the government misidentified them

What a difference an algorithm makes: 1.7 million people have been added to the government’s shielding list in England, almost doubling the number overnight. A new risk analysis tool has for the first time factored in people’s socioeconomic conditions and underlying health problems, hugely expanding the number of people identified to be at high risk from the coronavirus.

To put that another way: millions of people who have been told throughout the pandemic that they were safe to go about their lives like the general public are now being advised to shield. Some of these people will have been voluntarily staying at home 24/7 already, but crucially they will have had to do so without the help that comes with being on the government’s official list, such as statutory sick pay, medicine deliveries and priority shopping. For others, the announcement will be a sudden and significant change to their lives – with no advance warning. Until now, 2.2 million people had been on the official shielding list, including those with lung disease and some who had received transplants.

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Read the original article at The Guardian

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