Fast access to COVID medicines for people with blood cancer UPDATED 11 JANUARY 2022
From 20 December, across the UK, some people with blood cancer who test positive for COVID may be eligible for:
- sotrovimab (an antibody treatment)
- molnupiravir (an antiviral drug) if they can’t have sotrovimab
These medicines aim to stop COVID becoming severe and to prevent hospitalisation or serious illness in those most at risk. Information about these medicines and others that are being researched can be read here. After your positive test, you would need to have a telephone consultation with a healthcare professional, to find out whether you can have one of the treatments.
Treatments for COVID-19 are free of charge on the NHS. The NHS will never ask for your bank account or card details, or ask you to pay for treatment.
REMEMBER – MPNs are BLOOD CANCERS and this is the simplest way to refer to them when talking with the NHS or healthcare professionals.
What you need to know
If you get covid symptoms, get a PCR test as soon as possible. Then follow the instructions for your country. When you book the PCR test tick the box indicating that you are clinically vulnerable.
These treatments are available across the UK, although the process for how to access them varies in the different countries. Each country has a web page about the new treatments:
MPN patients (eg those with ET, PV and MF) who are on a drug treatment for their MPN (not just aspirin or venesection) are eligible for these treatments.
Many people with blood cancers should be sent this letter about accessing the new treatments, and a priority PCR test kit to keep at home, you should get this by 10 January 2021. These PCR tests are priority ones – they will be processed faster than other ones so that if you develop covid symptoms at any point, you can get a PCR result quickly and get access to the new covid treatments if needed.
What happens if you test positive?
If you’re eligible for treatment (have symptoms) and test positive for COVID-19, it’s important to start the treatment as soon as you can and you must be within 5 days of the start of symptoms to be eligible.
You will need a positive PCR test result, a lateral flow test result is not sufficient.
The NHS will contact you within 24 hours of your positive PCR test result. This will usually be by text, email or phone call from what is now called a COVID MEDICINES DELIVERY UNIT (CMDU).They’ll give you more information and check if treatment is right for you.
If you have not been contacted within 24 hours of your positive PCR test but you think you may be eligible for treatment, call 111. They will be able to make an urgent referral if needed.
If you haven’t been sent a letter and a priority PCR test kit by 10 January 2022, call 119 to order one. If you haven’t got a priority PCR test and you get symptoms, tell your doctor straight away and ask about the quickest way to get a PCR test. You may need to order a priority PCR test by calling 119, which will arrive the next day. Or it may be faster to get a walk-in or drive-through PCR test. For all of these options, use the website or call 119. If you call 119, tell them you have a blood cancer and need a fast result as you may be eligible for the new covid treatments.
- Web page from NHS England – accessing new treatments
- Letter sent to healthcare professionals instructing them of this process
We understand that this letter is being sent to people who are at highest risk of COVID, it tells you what to do if you do have Covid symptoms – you should get a PCR test as soon as possible. If your PCR test comes back positive and you’ve already received a letter about the new treatments, you should be contacted by the NHS within 24 hours to discuss treatment. If this doesn’t happen, or if you haven’t had a letter yet, contact your doctor, medical team, call 111, or contact your Health Board (in Wales) to ask for a telephone assessment for the new treatments. Information from the Welsh Government can be found here.
We understand that letters are being sent to people who are at highest risk of COVID, it tells you what to do if you do have Covid symptoms, you should get a priority PCR test as soon as possible. If you are eligible for these treatments, the Scottish government and NHS has advised on their website that you can request a priority PCR test to keep at home, you can order via the website or call 119, and answer that you are an ‘essential worker’ (even if you are not) to ensure that you get a priority PCR test.
If your PCR test comes back positive, you’ll need to contact your Health Board for a telephone assessment.
To help your conversations, here is the letter sent to healthcare professionals instructing them about this process in Scotland.
We are not sure if letters are being sent about these treatments, but you may be eligible for them. If your PCR test comes back positive, you should be contacted by the NHS within 24 hours to discuss treatment. If this doesn’t happen, contact your doctor, medical team, call 111, or contact your Trust to ask for a telephone assessment for the new treatments. More information regarding this can be found here.
If you are told you are not eligible for new treatments
Not everyone with blood cancer/MPNs will be eligible for the new treatments, even after a telephone consultation. In this case, you could think about joining the PANORAMIC trial, a UK wide clinical study. This trial gives you a 1 in 2 chance of getting molnupiravir (half the people on the trial get molnupiravir and half don’t).
You can sign up to the PANORAMIC trial yourself if you have covid symptoms, a positive PCR test, and you are aged 50 or over, or 18 to 49 with an underlying condition.
I think I’m eligible but I haven’t had a letter
Even though you haven’t had the letter, treatments can still be given from 20 December 2021, in all four nations of the UK.
If you get a positive PCR result and you are eligible, follow the instructions in the box above under ‘What you need to know’.
Whether you have been sent a letter about this or not, if you get covid symptoms, take a PCR test as soon as possible. If you get a positive PCR result, follow the instructions for your country in the box above under ‘What you need to know’.
COVID vaccinations – our latest data suggests that the 3rd primary dose is REALLY important, so please get it. Once you have had 3 doses you will then need a 4th booster dose.
How to get your 3rd primary dose if you live in:
England – you can book an appointment via the NHS website, you will need to take a letter from your consultant/GP to confirm to that you should have a 3rd primary dose, if you have not received a letter, details on how to obtain one can be found here.
Scotland – information can be found here.
Wales – information can be found here.
Northern Ireland – information can be found here.
How do I book my booster (fourth dose)?
We are currently waiting for the NHS to clarify how people with blood cancer will be invited or book their booster dose.
The situation is changing, we will update you when we have new information.