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. It was approved for use in the UK to prevent Covid-19 in people whose immune response is poor in March 2022. However, the Government decided against making it available in the NHS because they were unsure how effective it was. Evusheld has been available to purchase privately in the UK since October 2022. We advise people to consider current evidence for the drug’s effectiveness before making a decision to buy the drug.
In February 2023, the national regulator, NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), published a draft decision against recommending Evusheld as a protective drug for people who are at risk from Covid-19. This is because they found it to be ineffective against the current strains of Covid-19.
Kidney Care UK was very disappointed that the government chose not to make Evusheld available in the NHS, at a time it was available in over 30 countries around the world. We know how important and disappointing this was for kidney patients, particularly those who may be less well protected. We are campaigning for the Government to prioritise the development of new treatments that can offer protection against the virus and act quickly to make effective treatments available.
See our 'Evusheld and CKD: your questions answered' information article 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 have also added the monoclonal antibody Sotrivomab and another drug, Ciclesonide, to the clinical trial.
The manufacturers of Evusheld are also testing out a newer version of the drug treatment.
In his letter on December 2022 to patient groups, Will Quince MP said the Government “would like to reassure you and your members that we continue to closely monitor the market for new prophylactic options.”
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, if future variants cause 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.