Eluned Morgan, Minister for Health and Social Services
Since the start of the pandemic, we have worked closely with the other UK nations to identify and deploy novel therapies for the treatment of COVID-19. In determining which treatments should be routinely used in the management of COVID-19 we are guided by the advice of the Research to access pathway for investigational drugs for COVID-19 (RAPID C-19) initiative and the UK national clinical expert group on COVID therapeutics. This approach has served us well.
Through our collaborative efforts we are now able to offer people with severe illness treatments including remdesivir, tocilizumab and sarilumab, which in many cases mean they no longer need critical care when they are admitted to hospital. More recently we have been able to provide more than 5000 of the most vulnerable people in Wales early treatment with the antiviral medicines nirmatrelavir/ritonavir, and molnupiravir, and the neutralising antibody sotrovimab, to prevent them being hospitalised at all. In combination with our vaccination programme, enabling people to access evidence-based treatments is reducing demand on our NHS and ultimately saving lives.
In recent weeks, I have received correspondence from Members of the Senedd regarding the UK Government’s decision not to procure the neutralising monoclonal antibody combination tixagevimab/cilgavimab (Evusheld) for the pre-exposure prophylaxis of COVID-19.
In particular, I have been asked what plans the Welsh Government has for directly procuring Evusheld outside the pan-UK procurement arrangements we have established during the pandemic. I can confirm that at this stage we have no intention to procure Evusheld directly – doing so would go against the advice of RAPID C-19 and the national clinical expert group both of which have advised against procuring Evusheld against at this time.
We will continue to be guided by the clinical advice on therapeutic options which has been so successful throughout the pandemic. If compelling evidence of its effectiveness becomes available, we will work with other UK governments to secure supplies of Evusheld for those people who might benefit. I am therefore pleased the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has already started work on its single technology appraisal of Evusheld with an anticipated publication date of early summer next year.
I will provide a further statement on access to Evusheld should the position change.