Patient group delivers view on damning Covid-19 report from the APPG for Vulnerable Groups to Pandemics

The APPG for the Clinically Vulnerable Groups to Pandemics has today released its report on the Covid 19 UK Inquiry into the 500k Forgotten immunocompromised patients.

Whilst Evusheld For The UK welcomes this inquiry and this report, it makes sobering reading and catalogues a litany of failures from the start of the pandemic through to the present day. It highlights how the country’s most vulnerable patients have been systematically ignored and cast aside at the time they most needed help from this Government and the agencies set up to protect them.

Evusheld for the UK, which represents this half a million patients, stands as resolute as ever in the face of this damning report, determined to improve the care and protection for the most vulnerable.1 We strongly urge the Government to adopt the 5 recommendations raised by the inquiry's conclusions.

Time and time again this Government has ignored requests to help this section of the population at their time of most need, ignoring all calls for meetings and solutions proposed to improve this situation. Despite assurances by the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, on numerous occasions that this is a Government that cares about its most vulnerable, the rhetoric has been met with delay after delay and a determination to ignore the plight of the immunocompromised. This has come at the detriment of both patients and the National Health Service. The total inequality of care must not be allowed to continue and needs to be addressed now as a matter of urgency.

Many clinically vulnerable people and their families continue to shield as the only defence against the virus, which whilst mild in others, can have devastating effects on them due to their health conditions. For many they are now entering their 4th year of shielding and restricted living; a time span which is beyond the imagination when the first Covid restrictions were introduced in March 2020.

Evusheld for the UK is asking the Government to meet with them and partners urgently to look at the issues raised and to improve the care and protection provided to this vulnerable group of patients, numbering 1.4M people which equates to nearly 2% of the population by NICE’s calculations, and extends beyond this when you include the impact to their families also.

Mark Oakley, Co-Leader Evusheld for the UK, said: “Nothing contained within this report is a surprise to anybody who has had to live through the last 3 years, with their and their families’ lives on hold. This has done immeasurable damage to people’s health, finance, families, relationships, careers, education and mental health. Much of this will take years to recover from. The total lack of support for those affected from the Government has been shameful. Decisions have been taken too slowly or not at all with many decisions wilfully deferred for political reasons. Work to protect those most in need has been taken with a total lack of urgency, leading to more suffering. The fact that patients are now facing a 4th year of shielding or trying to fund protective drugs, such as Evusheld, privately, simply highlights the total inequality and shambolic way this issue has been handled. The Government and the DHSC have been shamed by the way other countries have looked after their most vulnerable during the pandemic. Enough is enough and the Government now needs to act with speed, compassion and common sense to resolve this issue. We have lost too many people throughout this due to inaction and we will sadly continue to lose more until this is dealt with and the Government stops hiding behind poor excuses for care and protection.”

1 NICE have now given an increased estimation of 1.2m people who would be covered by the much needed but denied protective drug Evusheld and will require future versions of this or similar drugs.

Professor Martin Eve, Co-Leader, Evusheld for the UK, said: “The Government insistence that we return to ‘business as usual’ was premised on the idea that the most vulnerable would be protected. Clearly, this promise has not been fulfilled. The Government and its agencies took 11 months to appraise a vital drug during a pandemic period while 30 other countries around the world were using it to protect the most vulnerable. By the time they got around to appraising it, the virus had mutated. This cannot be allowed to happen again. I urge the Government and its agencies to implement fast-track procedures for Covid medications for this vulnerable group. The normal routes, which are slow and bureaucratic, have failed this group.”

Nikola Brigden, Co-Leader, Evusheld for the UK, said: “I hope that the results of this Inquiry will finally focus Ministers’ minds as to the failings of how the immunocompromised have been treated during the pandemic. For this group of patients the pandemic is not over, they still continue to live through the nightmare which impacts on their families, finances and mental health, too many lives have also been lost. We need a dynamic solution so that any new technologies can be appraised swiftly to maximise on protection, and this group is given equity of protection with the normal population. We also need a commitment going forward that investments will be made in further new technologies/treatments and collection of data so that this group is not forgotten again in the future. We look forward to hopefully meeting with ministers to discuss these issues further. ”