Covid drug Evusheld not recommended for people with weakened immune systems on NHS

The announcement mirors a similar decision made by the Department for Health last year. Credit: PA

The Covid drug Evusheld will not be recommended for people with weakened immune systems.

According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), there is not enough clinical evidence that the drug, made by AstraZeneca, protects against existing coronavirus variants or those expected to circulate in the next six months.

It follows a decision by the Department of Health (DfH) last year not to back Evusheld due to a lack of evidence of benefit against variants, and a similar decision in the US last month.

Evusheld contains two antibodies against Covid which boost protection for those whose immune systems do not respond well to vaccines. These include people with blood cancer and those who have received organ transplants.

Nice said it is now developing a new review process to update recommendations on the cost-effectiveness of Covid treatments "so they can be made available more quickly to patients if they show promise against new variants and are found to be cost-effective".

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Fiona Loud, policy director at Kidney Care UK, criticised the speed of the Nice analysis.

She said: "We believe that Evusheld could have helped vulnerable people over the past year by supporting them to return to normal life, as it has in over 30 countries around the world; but that opportunity was wasted due to the failure to act quickly and decisively.

"It is clear that the current protracted NICE process is completely inappropriate and has left a huge number of people without protection and reassurance when they needed it most.

"This is a painful lesson that, in the case of a rapidly mutating virus like Covid-19, time is of the essence for people who remain at greater risk.

"People who have less protection despite being vaccinated deserve the same urgency that led to the rapid development of effective vaccines that enabled the general population to get back to normal life."

An AstraZeneca spokesperson said: "The SUPERNOVA trial is underway and we are aiming to make AZD3152 available in the second half of 2023, subject to regulatory reviews and trial readouts. AZD3152 has been shown to neutralise all known variants to date.”