There is a lot of interest and work going on to develop and test treatments that can prevent people from becoming ill with Covid-19. These will be particularly important for people who are immunosuppressed who may not have responded as well to the Covid-19 vaccines.
Many of the drugs in development may offer long-acting protection, which will be very helpful in enabling immunosuppressed people to get back to normal life.
Is the preventative treatment Evusheld available on the NHS?
Evusheld is an antibody therapy developed for the pre-exposure prophylaxis (prevention) of Covid-19.
The MHRA approved the use of Evusheld to prevent Covid-19 in people whose immune response is poor in March 2022 but MHRA approval does not mean the treatment was approved for use in the NHS.
Kidney Care UK is very disappointed that the government has chosen not to purchase Evusheld at this time, and has written with other charities to the Health Secretary Steve Barclay to highlight the latest data, ask for evidence on the decision and ask that he thinks again.
We know how important and disappointing this is for kidney patients, particularly those who may be less well protected. We are highlighting this to policy makers in all of our conversations and asking them when we will know more about the availability of the drug to patients. See our 'Evusheld and CKD: your questions answered' blog post about the need for protection to live with Covid-19.
Are there any other preventative treatments in the pipeline?
A trial called PROTECT-V is evaluating the benefits of treatments that may prevent Covid-19, including a nasal spray called Niclosamide. They will also be adding the monoclonal antibody Sotrivomab and another drug, Ciclesonide, to the clinical trial.
The Panoramic PEP substudy will test whether antivirals prevent transmission of Covid-19 to people living with someone who has the virus (post exposure protection).
Although lots of work is going on, preventative treatments are not currently in routine use in the UK. It may be that widespread use of these treatments becomes unnecessary, because of Omicron and future variants causing less severe illness which people can recover from on their own.
No treatment is without risk, so there would need to be a careful consideration of the benefits of reducing an already low risk from Covid-19 against the potential harm of giving an additional medication to a person with kidney disease. This is a different risk benefit calculation to giving the medication to someone who already has Covid-19 or giving preventative treatment when the risk of severe illness with Covid-19 is very high.