Investigative report into the British contaminated blood scandal will be unveiled on Monday

The final report of the UK’s Infected Blood Inquiry will be published on Monday, almost six years after it began.

The final report of the British Infected Blood Inquiry will be published on Monday, almost six years after it began investigating how tens of thousands of people contracted HIV or hepatitis from transfusions of contaminated blood and blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.

The scandal is widely seen as the deadliest to hit Britain’s health service since it was founded in 1948. About 3,000 people are believed to have died as a result of infection with the HIV virus and hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver.

The report is expected to criticize pharmaceutical companies and doctors, officials and politicians, although many have already died over time.

It will also pave the way for a huge compensation bill that will put pressure on the UK government to pay it out quickly.

Had it not been for the tireless campaigners, many of whom saw loved ones die decades too early, the extent of the scandal might have been hidden forever.

This whole scandal has covered my entire life, said Jason Evans, who was four when his father died in 1993 at the age of 31 after contracting HIV and hepatitis from an infected blood plasma product.

My father knew he was dying and he made a lot of home movies, which I have and replayed over and over again growing up because that was basically all I had, he added.

Evans was instrumental in then Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to launch the investigation in 2017. He said he just couldn’t let it go. He hopes he and countless others can do that on Monday.

Here’s what the scandal was about and what the impact of the report could be.


In the 1970s and 1980s, thousands of people requiring blood transfusions, for example after childbirth or surgery, were exposed to blood contaminated with hepatitis, including a still unknown strain later called Hepatitis C, and the HIV virus.

Those with hemophilia, a condition that affects the blood’s ability to clot, were exposed to what was marketed as a revolutionary new treatment derived from blood plasma.

In Britain, the NHS, which treats the vast majority of people, started using the new treatment in the early 1970s. It was called Factor VIII. It was more convenient compared to alternative treatment and was called a miracle cure.

Demand soon exceeded domestic sources of supply, so health officials began importing Factor VIII from the US, where a large portion of plasma donations came from prisoners and drug users who were paid to donate blood.

That dramatically increased the risk of plasma contamination.

Factor VIII was made by mixing plasma from thousands of donations. With this bundling, one infected donor would compromise the entire batch.

The study found estimates that more than 30,000 people were infected by contaminated blood or blood products through transfusions or factor VIII.


In the mid-1970s, there was evidence that hemophiliacs treated with factor VIII were more susceptible to hepatitis. The World Health Organization, which had warned in 1953 about the hepatitis risks associated with the mass bundling of plasma products, urged countries not to import plasma.

AIDS, the greatest public health crisis since World War II, occurred in the early 1980s. Originally thought to be isolated from the gay community, it soon began to emerge among hemophiliacs and those who had received blood transfusions.

Although the cause of AIDS-HIV was not identified until 1983, warnings had been given to the British government the previous year that the causative agent could be transmitted through blood products.

The government argued that there was no conclusive evidence. Patients were not informed of the risk and continued with treatment that put their lives at risk.


The inquiry is expected to conclude that lessons from the 1940s have been ignored.

Campaigners claim it has been clear since the 1940s that heat killed hepatitis in another plasma product, Albumin. They say authorities could have made Factor VIII safe before it was sold.

The evidence provided for the investigation showed that the authorities’ main objection was financial. Unheated factor VIII was prescribed by the NHS until the end of 1985.

Campaigners hope the core finding of the research is that Factor VIII concentrates should never have been licensed for use unless heated.


In the late 1980s, victims and their families called for compensation on the grounds of medical negligence.

Although the government set up a charity in the early 1990s to make one-off support payments to people infected with HIV, it acknowledged no liability or responsibility and victims were pressured to sign a waiver to avoid calling the Ministry of Health to sue to acquire the disease. money.

Crucially, the exemption also prevented victims from suing for hepatitis, even if they only knew about their HIV infection at the time. Years after signing, the victims were told that they were also infected with hepatitis, mainly Hepatitis C.

No further class action followed until Evans, whose mother collapsed after his father’s death and who was called an AIDS boy at school, filed a case alleging that he had committed a crime in public office against the Ministry of Health.

Combined with political and media pressure, May announced the independent investigation. It was, she said, a terrible tragedy that simply should never have happened.


The government has accepted the case for compensation, with most estimates putting the final bill at around 10 billion pounds ($12.7 billion).

In October 2022, authorities made interim payments of £100,000 to each survivor and surviving partners.

The government is expected to announce different payments for different infections and also discuss how and when survivors can apply for interim payments on behalf of the estates of people who have died.

(Only the headline and image of this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

First print: May 19, 2024 | 3:09 PM IST