We understand that the recent news reports about the Covid vaccine’s efficacy for cancer patients and those with a compromised immune system will be concerning for our patient community. We would like to update you with what we know so far, and what we’re doing to find out more.  

The Aplastic Anaemia Trust are doing everything we can to investigate the efficacy of the vaccine for aplastic anaemia patients and will work with other organisations to lobby the government for any changes to the vaccine schedule that the expert haematology community tells us will be of benefit to patients. 

As we announced two weeks ago, we are funding the first stage of a new piece of research into the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine. This study is already in progress, and we are seeking additional funding for the next phase of this research. It could potentially be a matter of weeks before this helps shed more light on the picture for aplastic anaemia patients. Our study is just one part of the story – Professor Peter Hillman is aware of 14 studies which are investigating this question for blood cancers and similar conditions, with thousands of participants already taking part. Each of these studies helps us learn more, and the results are being assessed very closely as they come in.  

Risk assessment by experts is ongoing, and up to date 

Professor Peter Hillman has been informing us this morning about discussions he has been having weekly with the Blood Cancer UK Vaccine Task Force, which we have also been invited to join. This group assesses and discusses research findings on a weekly basis, and are lobbying for the government to provide rapid access to the second vaccination for people with blood diseases including aplastic anaemia and blood cancers 

This expert group have of course been looking closely at the suggestion that the Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccine could be linked to thrombosis in patients. Professor Hillman was keen to emphasise that more than 11 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have now been administered across the UK. If there is an association between the vaccine and thrombosis, we know that this would  be exceedingly rare. In these extremely rare cases, this would also be likely to be a fast reaction – so we would like to assure anyone who has been given the vaccine that there are no grounds for ongoing anxiety.  

Aplastic anaemia patients are an extremely vulnerable group, and Covid-19 is a serious threat. All our expert community are in agreement that aplastic anaemia patients should seek the advice of their medical team, and take the vaccine if you are recommended to do so.  

We advise caution 

Peter Hillman’s advice to patients is to exercise additional caution, even after you have been vaccinated for Covid-19. As lockdown measured are eased, it will take at least four weeks for us to know how well the disease has been controlled across the population, and it will be sensible for those who are more vulnerable to hold back on relaxing their own Covid safety measures until this picture is clearer.  

Interpreting antibody test results 

We also know that some people have been acquiring antibody tests and using these as a measure of whether the Covid-19 vaccine has been effective in their own case. We would advise caution with interpreting these results.  

An antibody test will only provide you with half the story about how well your immune system has responded to the vaccine – they will not test your T-cells, which play a vital role in your body’s immunity. It is very important that patients do not assume, based on antibody test results, that they are safe from Covid-19 and therefore able to take additional risks. 

 

We know that this is an extremely difficult time, and we would love to be able to give you the concrete answers that you are hoping for. As the UK takes comfort in the impressive speed of the vaccine roll out, we would also encourage our community to feel reassured by the amount of brilliant research that is also taking place at an impressive speed, and the diligent care taken by our country’s haematological experts to assess all the latest scientific information and provide you with the best possible, up to date advice.

We will continue to do our best to bring you this expert advice as quickly as possible and keep you as informed as the situation develops.   

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