Identifying rheumatic disease patients at high risk and requiring shielding during the COVID-19 pandemic

Clin Med (Lond). 2020 May 1;clinmed.2020-0160. doi: 10.7861/clinmed.2020-0160. Online ahead of print.


Rheumatology teams care for patients with diverse, systemic autoimmune diseases who are often immunosuppressed and at high risk of infections. The current COVID-19 pandemic has presented particular challenges in caring for and managing this patient group. The office of the chief medical officer (CMO) for England contacted the rheumatology community to provide expert advice on the identification of extremely vulnerable patients at very high risk during the COVID-19 pandemic who should be 'shielded'. This involves the patients being asked to strictly self-isolate for at least 12 weeks with additional funded support provided for them to remain at home. A group of rheumatologists (the authors) have devised a pragmatic guide to identifying the very highest risk group using a rapidly developed scoring system which went live simultaneous with the Government announcement on shielding and was cascaded to all rheumatologists working in England.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; health economics; innovation; testing.