Immunosuppression: Coronavirus

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered at on 1 March 2023.

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Photo of Vicky Foxcroft Vicky Foxcroft Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to individuals at increased risk from covid-19, when the definition of clinically extremely vulnerable was last reviewed.

Photo of Vicky Foxcroft Vicky Foxcroft Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the proportion of clinically extremely vulnerable individuals who are at increased risk from current strains of coronavirus.

Photo of Vicky Foxcroft Vicky Foxcroft Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent advice his Department has received from the UK Health Security Agency on risks to clinically extremely vulnerable individuals from current coronavirus strains.

Photo of Vicky Foxcroft Vicky Foxcroft Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to current strains of covid-19, what recent public health advice he has issued to (a) clinically extremely vulnerable and (b) clinically vulnerable individuals on those strains.

Photo of Maria Caulfield Maria Caulfield The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)

Due to the success of the COVID-19 vaccines most people who were part of the ‘Clinically extremely vulnerable’ (CEV) cohort are no longer at substantially greater risk than the general population and are advised to follow the same guidance as everyone else on staying safe and preventing the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections, as well as any further advice received from their healthcare professional. The term ‘Clinically extremely vulnerable’ is therefore no longer used.

However, there remains a smaller number of people whose weakened immune system means they may be at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, despite vaccination. The welfare of this group of patients remains a priority and are offered enhanced protections including COVID-19 treatments, booster vaccinations, free lateral flow tests and tailored guidance.

In England, over 1.8 million people are eligible for COVID-19 treatments. The Government regularly reviews the guidance available to this group of individuals which was last updated on the 30 January 2023. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) continues to have in place surveillance arrangements that enable the monitoring of any emerging variants and to assess their potential impact, including in relation to severe outcomes. This information is shared between UKHSA, the Department and NHS England.

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