17 Oct 2022 Policy

New campaign launches for the forgotten 500,000 families

Patient groups, charities and clinicians unite to raise awareness of half a million vulnerable people, many of whose lives have never returned to normal after the Covid-19 lockdown.

A new campaign launches today in the UK to raise awareness of the #Forgotten500k and their families, many of whom are still living restricted lives at huge risk from Covid-19. Around 500,000 immunocompromised people across the United Kingdom are at higher risk from the virus because their weakened immune systems make them less likely to respond well to vaccines. Many are still shielding, still in isolation, still unable to work, see friends or hug loved ones. Yet their pleas go unheard.

Patient groups, charities and clinicians are urging the Prime Minister and Health Secretary to reverse a decision made under their predecessors to deny vulnerable patients access to an important treatment: Evusheld.

The rollout of Evusheld is urgently needed this winter to help protect the immunosuppressed from Covid-19 as we see rates rise again. This drug would allow this group to return to a higher standard 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. Yet still the UK Government won’t make it available on the NHS this winter.

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 Tortoise Media ‘Think In’ and a 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.

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.

Fiona Hazell, Chief Executive of Leukaemia UK, said:

“There are around 500,000 immunocompromised people across the United Kingdom whose lives are still hugely impacted by Covid-19. These #Forgotten500K, many of whom are cancer patients, must have their needs listened to and this includes access to effective treatments like Evusheld that might protect them from Covid-19.

Alongside access to Evusheld, other measures to protect those who are vulnerable are vital. This includes financial support, especially for those who are unable to go to work, and access to vaccines to make sure they are given the best possible protection.”

Gemma Peters, Chief Executive for Blood Cancer UK, commented: “Over one in 100 people with blood cancer have died of Covid, and many thousands more are continuing to experience the mental health burden of trying to avoid it. There is good reason to believe Evusheld would give significant protection to our community, and so the Government’s refusal to make it available is missing the chance to do something that would both help keep them safe and get back to their normal lives. In doing this, the Government is insisting on a level of certainty for Evusheld that goes far beyond the level of certainty it needed before it bought the original vaccines in 2020, and is letting down immunocompromised people.”

Find out more about the #Forgotten500k campaign

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