A new campaign launched today in the UK to raise awareness of the #Forgotten500k and their families, many of whom are still living restricted lives because they remain at high risk from COVID-19. There are approximately 500,000 immunosuppressed/immunocompromised people across the United Kingdom who remain at higher risk from COVID-19 because their weakened immune systems make them less likely to respond well to vaccines. Some are still shielding, still in isolation, still unable to work, see friends or hug loved ones.
Patient groups, charities and clinicians are urging the Prime Minister and Health Secretary to reverse a decision made under their predecessors to deny these people access to an important treatment: Evusheld.
The rollout of Evusheld is urgently needed this winter to help protect the severely immunosuppressed from COVID-19 as case numbers rise again. This treatment could allow this group to return to a better quality of life. Currently the UK is at odds with over 32 other countries who have approved the drug and who are already months into their rollout scheme. Despite this, the UK Government won’t make it available on the NHS this winter, instead waiting for NICE to publish their recommendation in April 2023.
The #Forgotten500k launches with a new national advertising campaign today, kicking off a series of events and activities which includes a special podcast from Crisis What Crisis?, a silent vigil in Parliament Square, and a Tortoise Media ‘Think In’.
The campaign allows the #Forgotten500k to be seen, to build connections and to be heard through their personal stories. The goal is to change the Government’s decision. As well as patient group Evusheld for the UK, the campaign is being supported by: Blood Cancer UK; LUPUS UK; Immunodeficiency UK; Leukaemia Care; Kidney Care UK; Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis; Myaware; Follicular Lymphoma Foundation; the Kidney National Federation; CLL Ireland; WM UK; Vasculitis UK; Anthony Nolan; Leukaemia UK; Kidney Research UK; and CLL Support.
Martin Eve, a member of Evusheld for the UK, said: “The clinically vulnerable of the United Kingdom were promised protection. Instead, they have been abandoned and forgotten. While the rest of the world takes care of its immunocompromised using Evusheld, the UK delays without delivering. Our patients need protection now and the current government schedule is just not good enough. Our members lead intolerably restricted lives, will suffer the mental health effects of 1,000 days of isolation for years to come, and are dying at much higher rates than the general population with COVID-19. The Secretary of State for Health has a clear answer: procure Evusheld, protect the vulnerable, and alleviate pressure on the NHS.”
Blanche Hampton, who lives with lupus, spoke to the BBC: “Evusheld would give me a layer of protection, that is better than nothing. Because that’s what I have currently – nothing”. “You don’t have any hope and it is one of the requisites for humans to want to stay alive. So this thing is draining me of any desire to really continue with my life, because it isn’t a life.” You can read the full story on the BBC News website HERE.
Monday 17th October | National advertising campaign
Advertising launched in The Times, Daily Mail, Evening Standard, Metro, Telegraph, The Sun, Guardian, The London I. The advertising creative was designed pro bono by The&Partnership in collaboration with patients, charities and clinicians with media secured by mSix&Partners.
Monday 17th October | Crisis What Crisis? Podcast
Guests Martin Eve and Dr Lennard Lee talk to host Andy Coulson about the campaign and what life has been like for the forgotten 500,000. Listen here: https://podcast.crisiswhatcrisis.com/forgotten500k
Wednesday 19th October | Westminster advertising
An advertising van will loop around Westminster with powerful messaging addressing the Government. The advertising creative was designed pro bono by The&Partnership in collaboration with patients, charities and clinicians. Professional photos will be shared with the media on the day.
Thursday 20th October | Tortoise Media ‘Think In’
Hosted by James Harding in conversation with Lord Mendelsohn; Baroness Brinton; Dr Lennard Lee, Academic Clinical Lecturer in Medical Oncology at the University of Oxford; Mark Oakley, Evusheld for the UK; and Helen Rowntree, Director of Research, Services and Engagement at Blood Cancer UK.
Wednesday 26th October | Silent Vigil in Parliament Square
Family and friends of the forgotten 500,000 will stand in Parliament Square holding photos of their loved ones who are unable to be there in person because of the risk of illness. Media will be invited. Follow on Facebook for details of how to get involved and updates.
Paul Howard, Chief Executive of LUPUS UK said: “There are still people from our community who remain at high risk from COVID-19 despite vaccination. Whilst much of the rest of the country has moved on, some individuals and families must continue to shield to protect their health. This is a significant burden to their emotional wellbeing and quality of life. There is good reason to believe Evusheld would give significant protection to these people within our community. We are calling on the Government to reverse their decision and do something that would both help keep them safe and get back to their normal lives. The Government’s decision about this treatment is based on an inequitable threshold for evidence when compared to the COVID-19 vaccines and anti-viral treatments and is letting down immunosuppressed people.”
Dr Lennard Lee, Academic Medical Oncologist at the University of Oxford and who has been advocating for immunocompromised people, added: “Tixagevimab /Cilgavimab (Evusheld), developed by AstraZeneca, was approved in March 2022 by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. 32 other countries have evaluated the evidence, including the US, Israel and France, and are using it to safeguard immunocompromised patients this winter. The plan to withdraw the original winter plan to protect immunocompromised patients is inexplicable.”
Please see https://getevusheld.uk/500k/ for more information.
About Evusheld for the UK
Evusheld for the UK exists for one purpose: to get Evusheld introduced in the UK with access for all those who need it. This includes rollout to all vulnerable people who are less likely to have mounted a response to vaccination. We are an independent patient-led campaigning group and we receive no funding from AstraZeneca or any other organisation. The group is a stakeholder in the NICE consultation on Evusheld and an appointed patient group for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Vulnerable Groups to Pandemics.