Public Well being England accused of deceptive most cancers sufferers on Covid jab | Coronavirus
The UK health authority has been accused of providing “misleading and dangerous” advice to hundreds of thousands of cancer patients about the level of protection they can expect after receiving their Covid vaccine.
Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, was called on yesterday to intervene and correct a widespread statement by Public Health England (PHE) that double vaccination was “very effective in clinical risk groups”.
In an angry letter seen by the Observer, Blood Cancer UK chief executive Gemma Peters said she was “deeply concerned” about the press release, which contained the results of a recent study of vaccine reactions. She said her “confident, final statements” about the level of protection for the UK’s 230,000 blood cancer patients could not yet be supported by the “broader evidence that the vaccine is effective in the immunocompromised”.
She warned that the reassurances could “give false assurances that could lead them to take dangerous risks” for patients at risk. She added: “I cannot tell you how disappointed I am that the public agency responsible for protecting people’s health is acting in a way that is frivolously damaging the health of some of the most vulnerable people in our country Game sets.
With all of this in mind, we believe that Public Health England has a duty to people with blood cancer to publicly withdraw this study as soon as possible and to contact any journalist it has been sent to. For the sake of clarity, we have no problem with the study itself, but with the presentation in the press and the subsequent media coverage. “
The headline in the PHE’s press release published on Friday stated that vaccines were “highly effective in clinical risk groups”. However, Blood Cancer UK said the study on which it is based makes it clear that more research is needed in the immunocompromised group, making it “impossible to justify such a comprehensive and definitive headline”.
It is also said that vaccines offer immunocompromised individuals similar protection as other risk groups, but the study on which it is based states, “We see a reduced S-antibody response and a reduced VE [vaccine efficacy] in the immunocompromised group, although the VE in this group is much higher after the second dose and the confidence intervals overlap with those in the non-risk groups. “
The press release makes no restrictions on the sample size, although the study only includes a relatively small number of immunocompromised people. The charity also said the release treats all immunocompromised people equally in terms of their risk, although it doesn’t.
It is understood that when asked by the charity, PHE initially said it stood by its original press release. “I appeal to you to change your mind,” says Peters. “I’m afraid that the media coverage from your press release has already harmed important public health messages, but I believe that a swift revocation can mitigate much of that harm.”
The novelty of Covid-19 means there is still a lot of uncertainty about how effective vaccines are for them, but it is known that people with blood cancer do not respond as strongly to other types of vaccines.
Yesterday evening, PHE partially revised its press release: “Within these clinical risk groups there will be people with more severe forms of the disease – especially in the immunocompromised group – who may not respond as well to the vaccines, and we encourage them to seek advice from their specialists. “It is important, however, that groups at risk know that it is worthwhile to have two vaccinations, as there is evidence that they can offer them protection.
Blood Cancer UK welcomed the clarification but said the publication was overall misleading.
A PHE source said the study on which the release was based found that the vaccine’s effectiveness after a second dose is 74% in immunocompromised people, with protection similar to those seen in those not at risk. This increases by 4% after a first dose.