Our response to Evusheld – a treatment to prevent Covid for the immunosuppressed
17th Mar 2022
While we welcome the news of a new Covid treatment for immunosuppressed people – called Evusheld – we call for the Government to urgently set out its approach on how it will be rolled out, and how much protection it offers.
Today, a new medicine, Evusheld, has been authorised for Covid prevention by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
This Covid medicine has been developed by AstraZeneca, and has been approved for use in adults who are immunosuppressed. You can read more about this in the MHRA's press release.
Evusheld is a combination of two long-acting antibodies, tixagevimab and cilgavimab, which is given as single dose injections. It is authorised to be used before being exposed to the risk of COVID-19 infection in order to prevent disease (known as ‘pre-exposure prophylaxis’).
Our Chief Executive, Gemma Peters, said: “The approval of Evusheld will be welcomed by the many thousands of people with blood cancer whose immune systems have not been strong enough to respond well to the vaccines. The high infection rate has meant many of them have felt left behind as the rest of society gets back to normal, and Evusheld offers them hope of getting a similar level of protection against Covid as most of the population have already got from the vaccines.
“But while today’s approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is welcome news, the Government is yet to set out how it plans to use Evusheld. This means that while it is already available to immunocompromised people in the United States and other countries, immunocompromised people in the UK are now left to wait for the Government to confirm whether it plans to use it and, if so, how many doses it will buy.
"For some time, we have been urging the Government to set out its approach to using preventative treatments for people who have not responded well to the vaccines, and it is disappointing that it has not yet done so.
“We hope the MHRA’s approval of Evusheld will prompt a sense of Government urgency on this that has so far been lacking. Many people with blood cancer have now spent almost two years avoiding social interaction – the Government needs to do more to support them to be able to start getting back to normal.
“It is also important that people with blood cancer realise that while Evusheld is a potentially game changing treatment, there are still unanswered questions about it.
"We're confident it gives good protection against previous Covid variants and there is reason to think it will also protect against Omicron, but we have not yet seen real-world data on how much protection it gives against Omicron, or for how long. We are pleased to hear the MHRA plans to keep monitoring this, as it is vital that those who have Evusheld are kept up to date on this, so they can make their own informed decisions about how they live their lives.”
There's more information about Evusheld on our website: What is Evusheld, how effective is it, and will people with blood cancer get it?