UK’s decision not to buy Covid drug Evusheld disappoints charities | Coronavirus

The UK will not buy the drug Evusheld, which can help prevent Covid infections in people with weakened immune systems, the government has said.

The decision, revealed in an official statement on BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Friday, has been criticized by a host of charities who say it means many immunocompromised people will have no choice but to avoid all contact with their loved ones for fear of catching the Covid.

“We are deeply disappointed to learn that today the government announced that it has no plans to purchase Evusheld. Many in our community will feel abandoned and vulnerable,” said Helen Rowntree, Director of Research at Blood Cancer UK.

She said the charity was calling on the government to set out its justification and review the decision.

“For months now, Evusheld has been used in countries like the United States and Israel and there is a strong body of evidence showing that this drug can reduce the risk of dying from Covid in the most vulnerable people,” Rowntree said. . “Today’s decision will mean that many immunocompromised people will have no choice but to isolate themselves from loved ones.”

While immunocompromised people, such as those with blood cancer or undergoing chemotherapy, have been prioritized for Covid vaccines, research suggests they are less likely to mount a strong immune response to bites.

Evusheld is produced by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and contains two long-acting monoclonal antibodies that help block the coronavirus from entering cells, providing protection against infection. The Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency approved Evusheld for use in the UK in March this year.

The Department of Health and Social Care said the decision not to procure doses of Evusheld was due to a lack of data on how long the treatment provided protection compared to the Omicron variant.

“We are determined to support the most vulnerable as we live with Covid and immunocompromised patients are a priority for further treatment, access to free testing and vaccination,” a government spokesperson said. “We continue to explore the market for promising treatments that could prevent infection, to add to the antibody and antiviral treatments already offered by the NHS. We remain in close contact with all parties involved.

Fiona Loud, policy director at Kidney Care UK, said more than one in 10 people previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable were still protected in May.

“We are very disappointed to learn that Evusheld will not be considered for people who are not well protected by the vaccine. A lack of transparency and communication has prevented many people from understanding the process followed to reach this decision, and patients are telling us they are heartbroken after waiting so many months to find out if this licensed treatment will be made available. We urge the government to think again,” she said.

UK Covid infection levels appear to be falling but remain high. Another wave of Covid is expected later in the year.

Loud said: “Despite vaccination and antiviral treatments, the data shows that the immunocompromised group remains most at risk of dying from Covid, and although infections remain high, it is clear that urgent action is needed, in especially for people who feel left out while the rest of the country returns to normal. The pandemic is far from over for kidney patients. We must act now before the coming winter months.

Professor Danny Altmann, an immunologist at Imperial College London, said he agreed with the feeling of disappointment. “For the millions of clinically vulnerable people in the UK, the idea that we have now been in ‘freedom’ for 13 months is a cruel taunt,” he said. “In many countries around the world, licensed monoclonals are a key part of their safety net. It’s a bit difficult to judge what was the divergent assessment of the evidence that led to such a different outcome for vulnerable people in the UK.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *