Oxford oncologist pleads with government for Evusheld

By Katharine DaCosta
Journalists, BBC South Today

Legend,

Dr Lennard Lee wants the government to review the drug’s effectiveness

A leading academic is asking new Health Secretary Therese Coffey to reconsider rolling out a Covid drug for people with weakened immune systems.

Last month the government decided it would not supply Evusheld in the UK.

But Dr Lennard Lee, an academic medical oncologist at the University of Oxford, backed by more than 120 leading scientists and clinicians, said an overhaul was needed.

The government said more data was needed on the treatment.

Evusheld was approved for use in March, but was reviewed after the Omicron variant appeared.

The drug’s maker, AstraZeneca, said there was “a lot of real data” to show it worked. It is currently available in 32 countries.

sources d’images, Getty Images
Legend,

Research from the United States and Israel suggests that Evusheld reduces the risk of infection by approximately 50%

Dr Lee told the BBC: “It’s time to re-examine the data and think about transparency in terms of why they decided not to, and the pros and cons of doing it.

“We know that coronavirus cases are likely to increase in the winter, and we know that there are people who face increased risks…

“Therefore, if there is anything we can do to protect … anyone who is immunocompromised, I think it is something that needs to be reconsidered. »

Research from the United States and Israel suggests that Evusheld reduces the risk of infection by approximately 50% and reduces the risk of serious illness by 90%.

Covid: Oxford oncologist pleads with government for Evusheld
Legend,

Ketai Sithole said she had to live a ‘protected life’

Scientist Ketai Sithole, 44, from Oxford, had a kidney transplant four years ago and the drugs she is taking are weakening her immune system.

She’s had five Covid strokes but antibody tests show she’s still not protected against the virus.

She said the evidence for Evusheld’s effectiveness was “more than sufficient”.

She added: “I cannot continue to live this sheltered life.

“They say when you have a transplant, the reason you have it is to live your life to the fullest. It’s not living life to the fullest, in some ways I feel cheated. »

In a statement, the Department of Health said: “There is insufficient evidence on the duration of protection offered by Evusheld compared to the Omicron variant.

“We are determined to support the most vulnerable and continue to explore the market for promising treatments. »

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is expected to release a report on Evusheld in April.

Covid: Oxford oncologist pleads with government for Evusheld

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