Evusheld vigil announcement for Covid-19 patient campaign
A campaign calling for immunocompromised people to be able to access a treatment which could help protect them from getting Covid-19 will culminate with a vigil in Parliament Square on Wednesday 26 October.
A proportion of kidney patients, especially among those with kidney transplants, remain at risk of severe Covid-19 infections despite full vaccination. Widely-used vaccines for Covid-19 rely on the response of the immune system, which can be reduced and in some cases non-existent, for those who take medication to prevent their body from rejecting a transplanted organ or some medications used to treat autoimmune kidney disease.
Helping those most at risk
Researchers have been working on alternative treatments to help protect vulnerable people against Covid-19. AstraZeneca has developed Evusheld, a therapy containing the antibodies tixagevimab and cilgavimab, which can be used before someone is exposed to Covid-19. Evusheld is now in use across 32 countries. In March 2022, Evusheld was licensed for use in the UK by the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). However, the Government has refused to make Evusheld available.
A Government spokesperson has said: “Following a robust review of the available data, our clinical experts advise there is currently insufficient data on the duration of protection offered by Evusheld in relation to the Omicron variant and the government will not be procuring any doses at this time.”
Kidney Research UK believes that whilst we must continue to review the evidence for Evusheld's efficacy against emerging Covid variants, it remains an important and urgent option for individuals who may not respond well to vaccination.
We signed a joint letter with 18 other charities to ask for provision of Evusheld to be reconsidered; this was supported by a consensus statement from 125 clinicians across 17 specialities. The Government has asked the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to conduct an assessment of Evusheld, which we have responded to. However, the resulting guidance will not be available until 31 May 2023 meaning no additional protection is available this winter – particularly worrying given the current rapid rise in rates of infection.
Supporting the campaign
Alison Railton, head of policy and external affairs at Kidney Research UK said:
“With the national Covid vaccination programme, the Government set a clear pathway out of the pandemic for the majority of the people in this country; however this approach fails to take into account the wellbeing of those patients for whom vaccination is less effective. Without sufficient antibodies after the recommended number of vaccine doses, many people continue to shield, stay away from friends and family, and are living through a perpetual lockdown. Meanwhile Covid is again on the rise as the winter draws nearer.
“To have Evusheld dismissed by the Government is hugely frustrating, especially when the results of further investigations into vaccine response in these at-risk populations are soon due and will show just how many people could benefit. We fully support the campaign to allow those most at risk access to Evusheld and encourage the Government to reconsider their decision and give these people their lives back.”
Importantly, results are expected soon from the MELODY study, part funded by Kidney Research UK, which has recruited 30,000 immunocompromised patients to examine their antibody responses after their third or fourth Covid-19 vaccine doses and any subsequent Covid-19 infections. This study will provide vital insights into the proportion of patients who do not respond well to vaccination and would potentially benefit most from a protective treatment like Evusheld.
Attending the vigil
The patient-led campaign has organised the vigil to highlight the plight of those left unprotected and MPs will be invited to attend and speak to those taking part. It is proposed that anyone who does not wish to take part due to their own health concerns asks a family member or friend to represent them.
The vigil will be socially distanced, with those attending standing two metres apart from each other, masked if wished, holding photos of those unable to attend so they can represent them.
If you would like to attend, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org with your details, and we will be in touch with further information.