The coronavirus pandemic has significantly altered not just the world we live in, but the way we engage within this new world. It has been difficult and isolating to grapple with the impact of the pandemic. But while many people are eager to “return to normal,” the pandemic remains frightening – and dangerous – for people with rare and chronic illnesses. One such woman is Abigail Wooding, a 50-year-old woman from Wales who has common variable immunodeficiency (CVID).
The Fight for EVUSHELD
In an article from BBC News, Wooding shares her struggles with managing her condition during the pandemic. Her CVID makes her more likely to develop a severe case of COVID-19 if she was to contract the viral illness. Additionally, after receiving six COVID-19 vaccines, Wooding’s body failed to produce any antibodies against the illness.
As a result, Wooding spent over £2,000 (approx. $2,466) for EVUSHELD, an investigational medicine for pre-exposure prophylaxis for the prevention of COVID-19. It combines two monoclonal antibodies that are targeted against the COVID-19 spike protein. EVUSHELD is taken twice yearly and helps to protect those who are immunocompromised. After taking EVUSHELD, Wooding’s blood began to show COVID-19 antibodies.
Although Wooding was able to acquire EVUSHELD privately, the UK government does not feel there is enough evidence that the treatment confers protection against COVID-19. Because of this, the government will not allow the drug to be publicly available via the National Health Service (NHS) until the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) offers a recommendation on the treatment. EVUSHELD is available in 32 other countries.
An Overview: Common Variable Immunodeficiency (CVID)
Common variable immunodeficiency, or common variable immune deficiency, is a primary immune deficiency disease; this means that it impairs the way the immune system functions. People with CVID have low levels of infection-fighting proteins like immunoglobulin G and immunoglobulin A. As a result, they are more susceptible to bacterial and viral infections, particularly those that affect the ears, lungs, and sinuses. The cause of CVID is unknown in most cases, though around 10% have a genetic basis. There are 13 genes that have been implicated in CVID development, including TNFRSF13B. About 25% of people with common variable immunodeficiency also have an autoimmune disorder.
Symptoms, which may manifest anywhere between childhood and adulthood, can include:
- Recurrent infections
- Gastrointestinal tract inflammation
- Spleen and lymph node inflammation
- Unintended weight loss
- Increased risk of gastric cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Treatment options include antihistamines and immunoglobulin therapy.