The National Health Service (NHS) is to send letters out to the cohort identified by scientists at the University of Oxford who are now being designated as more vulnerable to coronavirus.

Around 2.2 million people are currently advised to shield in England, many of whom were identified as being at particularly high risk from Covid because they suffer from specific cancers, have severe respiratory problems, or are on immunosuppression drugs.

The NHS says that while some of the new group may have already received vaccinations, about 820,000 will be moved up the priority list to receive one of three Covid-19 vaccinations approved for use in the UK.

The Oxford University model looked at the conditions of people who had caught coronavirus and those who died from the virus. The algorithm also incorporated other factors, including age, ethnicity, postcode (which is seen as indicative of levels of deprivation), and other health conditions.

The designation of ‘shielding’ allows vulnerable people in England to qualify for statutory sick pay, as well as having priority for medical and supermarket deliveries.