Blood cancer sufferers are still shielding

From: Henny Braund, CEO, Anthony Nolan

Friday, 11th June 2021, 8:05 am
Updated Friday, 11th June 2021, 8:11 am
Even after a dose of Covid 19 vaccine many blood cancer sufferes have no antibodies to the disease. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

I wanted to highlight that as Covid-19 restrictions ease, more than 110,000 people with blood cancer and blood disorders, including stem cell transplant patients, plan to shield. Many are struggling with poorer mental health and, in some cases, are experiencing significant delays to their treatment. Anthony Nolan is warning that these patients are being left in the dark by the Government.

What makes the pandemic more concerning for this group of patients is that they are immunocompromised and more vulnerable to Covid-19. Studies have found that 34% of blood cancer patients who contracted the virus did not survive. This risk is substantially higher than in the general population.

Worryingly, a recent study suggests that only 13% of people with blood cancer had an antibody response after one dose of the Pfizer vaccine meaning that, every day, they are faced with difficult choices around returning to work and public spaces while remaining extremely vulnerable to the virus. This is against a backdrop of a cancer backlog in the NHS.

These patients were identified by the NHS as amongst the most vulnerable, yet, they have been forgotten time and again during this pandemic. We cannot risk the UK becoming a two-tiered society with these patients receiving less protection from approved vaccines and being forced to shield with little access to services or support.

That’s why we are urging to Government to do more for these patients. We’d like them to step up and fund more vital research to enable patients to return to normal life with the rest of the UK, and make certain that everybody that needs treatment, and support, can access it without delay.

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