A 32-year-old man with no underlying health conditions was offered a Covid vaccine early because of a blunder at his GP surgery which recorded him as being 6.2cm tall, giving him an astonishing body mass index (BMI) of 28,000.
The Liverpool Echo’s political editor, Liam Thorp, said he was left “really confused” after he was offered the jab this week seemingly ahead of the government’s rollout plan, and shared the “frankly surreal” experience in a Twitter thread which quickly went viral.
Manchester Evening News politics and investigations editor, Jennifer Williams, replied: “Should they not have been in touch before to see how the man the size of a thumb was getting on?” And palliative care doctor Rachel Clarke said: “This, for me, is the single best tweet of the entire pandemic, Liam. And may I please commend your decency in not exploiting your remarkable BMI to jump the queue?”
After his initial surprise at the invitation, Thorp said he was under the impression you should accept an invitation and booked an appointment but later felt “uneasy” about the situation, especially with so many vulnerable people yet to be vaccinated.
Under-50s with no underlying health conditions are the final group on the government’s priority list and are not expected to be offered the vaccine until the summer.
After ringing his GP to ask if there had been a mistake, Thorp was told he had been placed in priority group six because of his weight. Writing in the Echo, he said that despite being “on the chunky side, I wouldn’t have thought of myself as clinically obese (even after lockdown)”.
After “some serious soul-searching” and a revision of Pancake Day plans, Thorp was called back by the surgery the next day. “What followed was one of the most bizarre phone conversations of my life,” he wrote.
It transpired that his details had been put into the system incorrectly, with his height recorded as 6.2cm rather than 6ft 2ins (188cm). Combined with his weight, this had given Thorp a BMI of 28,000 – roughly 1,000 times higher than the UK average – which would have made him morbidly obese. “I’m not sure how he kept it together when he told me this,” he wrote.
“If I had been less stunned, I would have asked why no one was more concerned that a man of these remarkable dimensions was slithering around south Liverpool. But he was very apologetic and really nice and I think he was just relieved that I found it so funny.”
Thorp also shared a hilarious interaction with his mother after he shared the mishap on Twitter. “When I told my mum I had been classed in the clinically obese category, she said: ‘Well perhaps this is the wake-up call you need’.”
Thorp said the mixup showed how important it was for people to check if they feel they may have been invited for the jab by mistake.
The NHS Liverpool clinical commissioning group said it was “grateful” to Thorp for checking with his GP. Its chair, Dr Fiona Lemmens, said: “I can see the funny side of this story but also recognise there is an important issue for us to address.”