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16th September 2021

An announcement on Covid-19 from the UK Government -our comments

The UK government have today announced (here) that the shielded patient list will be withdrawn. We understand that people on the shielding list will receive a letter to this effect soon. 

We’re extremely concerned by this announcement, particularly as we’re continuing to receive evidence that suggests people with blood cancer are unlikely to respond as well to the COVID vaccines.  

It seems strange to make this announcement now when our community are being invited for a third dose of the vaccine due to their increased vulnerability to the virus, and as we do not fully understand what protection they receive from the vaccines. We are also awaiting results from important studies such as the OCTAVE research, which will indicate how protected fully vaccinated immunocompromised patients are.
 
With rising rates of COVID in the community and emerging variants of concern, there’s real potential that people with blood cancer and others who are immunocompromised will need to take further precautions over the winter and removing this list makes this very difficult to communicate, potentially putting lives at risk. 

Once again, people with blood cancer feel forgotten as the government haven’t provided them with clear guidance on their individual risk from the virus and we’re worried that the removal of this list will give people a false sense of reassurance. 

In addition to this, the announcement could mean that many people will be forced back into busy workplaces, when it might not be safe for them to do so. 

The government urgently need to communicate with the employers of people with blood cancer to make them aware of their continued vulnerability, so this does not happen.

We are in contact with other blood cancer charities to see how we may best persuade the government to give greater consideration to the immunocompromised population. In the meantime, we urge all members to still take extra care. The Covid virus has not gone away, and blood cancer patients remain vulnerable.

Please note that this decision may not apply to the devolved governments.