The official Scottish Government list of those deemed at the greatest danger of contracting covid-19 is to be ended next month amid a “fall is in risk of hospitalisation or death” from the virus.
Data from thousands of immunocompromised Scots living with organ transplants, a range of cancers and respiratory conditions is to be deleted from a directory used to identify and contact patients for further advice on living through the pandemic.
Health bosses say the decision – which follows clinical advice recommending those on the list act in accordance with the same guidance as the rest of the population – was taken amid a “careful review” as a result of a successful introduction of new treatments to combat the illness.
Chief medical officer Gregor Smith will write to those previously on the list to inform them of the change, however local NHS boards will still be able to contact them when necessary.
Further support and advice is also set to be issued to those unable to “mount a full immune response” while they undergo treatment.
Deputy national clinical director, Dr John Harden, said: “At the beginning of the pandemic we introduced shielding to protect the most vulnerable from a virus we knew little about.
“Clearly shielding did not come without impact, particularly for those who were socially isolated or feeling particularly anxious due to being labelled at ‘highest risk’.
“Thankfully, we know a lot more about the virus now. Combined with our successful vaccination programme and the availability of new treatments, means the clinical evidence clearly shows that the vast majority of people who have been on the Highest Risk List no longer need to consider themselves at any significantly higher risk.”
He added: “Support is still in place for the small number of immunosuppressed people who are unable to mount a full immune response due to their condition or ongoing treatment.
“We will publish separate advice for this group and have put in place an identification process to be able to rapidly generate an accurate and current list of individuals to provide additional advice to, should it be needed in future.”
It comes months after the Scottish Government signed up to develop the ‘Distance Aware’ scheme launched by the Welsh national health think tank the Bevan Commission.
Badges and lanyards featuring a shield motif promoting a preference to maintain social distancing in public places were produced in January 2022.
The programme is to remain in place until further notice, with organisations, businesses and employers to asked to promote it to their staff, customers and members.
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