Revised Advice on variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) Risk Reduction Measures for the UK

The Government’s Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) has recommended that it is appropriate to withdraw two specific variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob (vCJD) control measures on plasma and platelets.

The Department of Health and Social Care has accepted the committee’s recommendation and the Welsh Government has asked the Welsh Blood Service to introduce the operational changes required. All other vCJD control measures remain in place, including those on red blood cells.

Over the last 15 years, scientific evidence has indicated that the risk of vCJD through the transfusion of UK plasma or platelets is much lower than initially thought; no known transfusion transmissions of vCJD from any blood components since the leucodepletion process was introduced. In March 2019, the independent Advisory Committee for the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) reviewed the scientific evidence and operational practices, engaged with stakeholders, and recommended that some specific risk reduction measures, requiring the use of imported plasma and apheresis platelets for individuals born on or after 1 January 1996 or with TTP, be withdrawn.

 SaBTO’s final advice has been published on the GOV.UK website, providing a comprehensive analysis of the risk attributed with updating these vCJD risk reduction measures. This advice is available online at: https://www.gov.uk/search/all?organisations%5b%5d=department-of-health-and-social-care&order=updated-newest&parent=department-of-health-and-social-care

The Welsh Blood Service will now commence an incremental 12-month transition to increasing domestic plasma acquisition. Work is underway to engage all stakeholders, including hospitals in Wales, and to develop an implementation strategy aligned with the national Blood Health Plan.