Persistent vulnerability: Long-Term Protection of Cancer and Immunocompromised Patients

Two days after the Government’s lifting of almost all public health measures, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Vulnerable Groups to Pandemics held a webinar on protecting cancer and immunocompromised patients persistently vulnerable to Covid-19.

With over 130 people participating or in attendance over the course of the webinar, the discussion, hosted by APPG Officer Lord Mendelsohn, on 21 July featured five guest speakers to share their insights, experience and recommendations on the care of immunocompromised people and those living with cancer:

  • Helen Rowntree, Director of Services, Research and Engagement, Blood Cancer UK;
  • Dr Lennard Lee, Lead, UK Coronavirus Cancer Monitoring Project;
  • Hal Cohen, a kidney transplant patient representative;
  • Nick York, a chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) patient representative; and
  • Professor Alison Birtle, Consultant Oncologist and Lancashire University Teaching Hospital.

Immune-suppressed people have faced unique issues through Covid-19, being at heightened risk of severe morbidity and mortality through Covid-19 and among the least protected through vaccination. Leukaemia patients are nearly three times more susceptible to Covid-19 than the overall cancer population, while CLL patients present an immune response following vaccination of less than 40% of that in healthy adults.

Blood cancer and immunocompromised patients face new issues as public health measures lift and circulation of the virus rises, with little protection and support afforded by the Government’s new advisory non-restrictive mitigations and advisory shielding guidance for persistently vulnerable groups.

Speakers received welcome support and engagement from the people in attendance, many of whom joined from shielding communities, patient charities, and groups within the medical profession with persistent vulnerability.

Along with speakers’ insights and expertise on cancer and immunocompromised care through Covid-19, attendees shared their experiences through Covid-19, and their key concerns and recommendations for the long-term protection of persistently vulnerable groups, including Kidney Care UK’s letter to employers with guidance to support vulnerable employees.

Recommendations will be crystallised in a letter to the Minister for Vulnerable Groups, Nadine Dorries.

The minutes of the meeting are available here: DOWNLOAD

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