Blood cancer: Charity calls for life-saving treatment to be made available in UK

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The word freedom has been thrown around with so much energy in recent years that one could almost forget whether it carried the substance of meaning or had the weight of a helium balloon. Freedom has long been used to describe the removal of lockdown restrictions; it was used to capture the joy of millions of people as they no longer had to socially distance or wear masks. However, not everyone was freed by the easing of restrictions; amid the rush to dance floors and street restaurants across the country, 500,000 people were left behind. Now that the dust has settled, activists fear this group has been left behind.

This group are the immunocompromised.

Due to their weakened immune systems, which means that no number of vaccine doses will prove effective, most of them have had to continue to protect themselves.

Despite this, there is a way for them to join the rest of the country in the viral release.

The key lies in an antibody treatment known as Evusheld; this provides each immunocompromised person with around six months of protection against COVID-19.

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This means that an immunocompromised person would only need two doses per year to protect against Covid.

There’s just one problem: the government didn’t buy a single dose.

Responding to an online petition in May, she justified her inaction with the following statement: “The Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency [MHRA] approves the product for use in Great Britain. However, the MHRA pointed out that the effectiveness of Evusheld against the Omicron variant is not yet fully understood. The MHRA noted that a higher dose might be needed.

Although the government cites a lack of evidence, a March statement from the drug’s makers, AstraZeneca, said, “Evusheld reduced viral load and limited inflammation caused by Omicron. The findings further support Evusheld as a potential important option to help protect vulnerable patients such as the immunocompromised who may face poor outcomes if they were to become infected with COVID-19.

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In short, the evidence the government is looking for already exists.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Blood Cancer UK research communications manager Rachel Khan said: ‘For some time we have been urging the government to define its approach to the use of preventative treatments for people who haven’t responded well to vaccines, and it’s disappointing that he hasn’t yet.

“Many people with blood cancer have now spent almost two years avoiding social interaction – the government needs to do more to support them so they can start to get back to normal.”

Ms Kahn added: ‘There is substantial published research showing that the treatment is effective against the current dominant variant of Covid in the UK, and has been for many weeks.

Mr. Abdeh to the Express: “This type of cancer can cause very different symptoms in different parts of the body.” Another physical symptom of blood cancer is bruising or bleeding for no apparent reason. The skin under the lower eyelid can also turn from pink to white. Mr. Abdeh added: “Unexplained weight loss can occur due to blood cancer. You may also feel short of breath when you have blood cancer.

As with all cancers, knowing the symptoms is crucial so action can be taken as soon as possible and a life potentially saved.

In response to Express.co.uk’s request for comment, a government spokesperson said:

“Those most at risk of Covid are eligible to receive one of our life-saving antivirals if they catch the virus, and the UK has purchased more doses per capita than any other country in Europe.

“The marketing authorization of Evusheld by the MHRA was based on the clinical efficacy of the product against the Delta variant, and at the time of its authorization, Omicron had become the dominant variant.

“The UK Health Safety Agency is carrying out further testing of the effectiveness of Evusheld against Omicron. We will closely monitor these results, which will inform decisions on next steps, including procurement.

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