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Something I’m not sure about

Total government compensation to the victims of the infected blood scandal could cost over £20 billion, The Sunday Telegraph understands.

Ministers have examined financial modelling which places the upper forecast for total compensation to be paid to those mistakenly infected with HIV and hepatitis C and their loved ones in the mid-£20 billions.

OK, I’m aware of the basic background, Factor VIII and so on, HIV and hepatitis.

But what is the actual claim about liability here?

a) The treatment had a bad outcome?

b) Government was incompetent at not stopping the bad outcome?

Those taking Factor VIII, for example, would be dead without Factor VIII. So, if it’s a) then well, you know, swings and roundabouts. If it’s b) then the idea of compo is more understandable.

But I’ve not followed this enough to know which of those two answer is correct.

To dive a little deeper, plasma and other blood productds do often come from the US and paid donors. No country, anywhere, that does not pay donors gains enough blood products – whole blood, yes, but blood products, no. So the mere fact that the supply was infected might not be enough. Say, HIV infection before, hhmmmm, 1985? hmmm, isn’t something to be held liable for because no one at all knew.

I do indeed know that lots of people got sick, died, as a result of contaiminated blood products. But how much of that was liability inducing error by government and how much, well, shit happens?

#Anyone actually know here? And no, Private Eye will not be taken as being an accurate source.

27 thoughts on “Something I’m not sure about”

  1. No, I don’t know. But there is an increasingly prevalent view that while shit may indeed happen, in a ‘caring’ Government shit should not happen without strenuous efforts to avoid it and/or compensation if it does. So *if* the Government was incompetent then compensation ‘naturally’ follows.

    But as anybody with perception knows, shit happens and shit spreads, and there is no view on how much caring is appropriate.

  2. Evidently, the ban in the US was introduced in September 1985:

    ” Men who had sex with men (MSM) after 1977 were barred from donating blood between September 1985 and December 2015, when there was a lifetime ban against donating, even if there had been one sexual encounter. The FDA reasoned this “indefinite deferment” was “due to the strong clustering of AIDS illness and the subsequent discovery of high rates of HIV infection in that population,” in background information presented in the newest guidance document.”

  3. Must admit I know nothing about it. All I can say is, after my quad by-pass, they’ll no longer accept a blood donation from me.

  4. I am displeased whenever reading or worse still hearing the self-righteous anthropomorphic term “The BBC understands/has learned” and variations thereof. It is disappointing to see its use spreading.

    The whole business, as far as I can tell, originated nearly 200 years ago in the Anthony Trollope novel “The Warden” where an early form of clickbait was clothed in the phrase “The Jupiter understands” by the editor of that fictitious publication. It ended badly for all concerned except the editor.

  5. Though Jonathan, the great monkeypox panic, with its clear evidence that a sexually transmitted disease is more likely to infect the gay lads, does suggest that to remove the ban might have been a trifle reckless.

  6. ……..and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, expressed a similar opinion: “This antiquated policy is not based on current science, stigmatizes the LGBTQIA+ community, and undermines crucial efforts to increase the nation’s blood supply as the United States grapples with the coronavirus crisis.

    In Homer Simpson voice: “Baristas, is there nothing they don’t know?”.

  7. Seeing that the number who died as a result of infected blood in the UK is between 1,820 and 3,000 (depends which Al Beeb story you look at – so much for consistency within the sainted envy of the media world) and the cost to UK taxpayers will be £20Bn, how much will my children / grandchildren / great grandchildren be on the hook for when the shit hits the proverbial, regarding certain medical procedures mandated / actively promoted / pushed onto the peeps by HMG over the last two and a bit years?

  8. The word in the first sentence which matters most is ‘could’. In modern news-speak, that means ‘won’t’. How far will £20bn go in the case of 3,000 deaths? Six million each? Seems a lot when if the covax kills you you’ll be lucky to get (or somebody will get, rather) £120k.

  9. O/T but in the very remote possibility that more banks etc adopt the policy of denying banking facilities for those they don’t like can anyone direct me to an idiots guide of how to use bitcoin instead (or as a backup). Credit or debit cards under the Visa/Mastercard/Amex regimes will not be the answer as they are just as likely to follow suit. In the presumed absence of freely available cash how does one actually use bitcoin to buy shopping/petrol or pay utility bills?

  10. Boganboy.

    Absolutely;. It requires a denial of reality which is quite astonishing. From the same article:

    ” Former blood technician, now a fitness entrepreneur and owner of, Alistaire Nzekio, 34, of Hightstown, New Jersey, pointed out, “The whole reason is because they think men who sleep with men are at a higher risk of getting HIV,” he said. But, “whether or not you donate blood, that blood is tested and verified and checked before it’s even passed on. Just because I’m a gay man sleeping with another men does not make my blood any less clean. I think it stems from the 1980s, when the virus first came out, when people didn’t really understand it. You’re just as likely to get HIV whether you’re straight or gay.”” (my bold)

  11. In November 1983, the UK Health Minister, Kenneth Clarke, told Parliament that “There is no conclusive evidence that AIDS is transmitted by blood products”,

    What a relief to everyone who got the Mystery Injections.

  12. Apropos needing *conclusive evidence* ie it needs to be THE explanation. This is interesting.

    I can’t donate blood as I have chronic fatigue syndrome/ME which the state insists is a mental problem for the most part. If it’s mental then why can’t I donate blood? Answer = too much risk they are wrong. So the *conclusive evidence* test clearly doesn’t apply.

  13. I certainly sniggered at the laser focused line of Lord Taylor
    “. .is the noble Baroness, on behalf of the Government, prepared to try and tackle AIDS at its source; namely, promiscuity among homosexuals?”


    The thread references that the screening of blood came in the week before. So around 17th October 1985.

  14. “In November 1983, the UK Health Minister, Kenneth Clarke, told Parliament that “There is no conclusive evidence that AIDS is transmitted by blood products””

    Ah, The Science™, consistently wrong since 1615……..

  15. Blood transfusions are like beefburgers, made up of parts of a hundred or so individuals. So the chance of getting some homo’s blood is (or was) quite high.
    However, we must assume that those transfused were willing recipients. (Exception made for Jehovah’s Witnesses.)
    Contrast with those other dodgy injections of recent times, where many people felt they had no choice but to comply. (No jab no job.)
    In fairness therefore compensation for the mRNA disaster should be higher than for the infected blood disaster.

  16. The most scandalous aspect of the whole biz was that the English NHS was short of production capacity for blood products whereas the Scottish NHS had a plant with plenty of spare capacity. For reasons unknown the English NHS turned down the offer of products from Scotland and opted for riskier American stuff.

    (My only source for this is, alas, the Gruaniad. Yet it might be true. Stranger things have happened.)

  17. Hang on. I’ve just skimmed the G’s piece again and I’m not certain what it’s trying to say with this: “Sixty people with haemophilia and 18 given transfusions were infected with HIV in Scotland, but the rate of infection in England and Wales was far higher, where 1,243 HIV infection cases came to light.”

    If it means that 78 Scots were infected by transfusion then pro-rata that would have been about 780 in England. That is fewer than the 1243 that were infected but not as many fewer as might have been hoped for. Is 1243 “far higher” than 780? It is, I suppose, if you are one of the unlucky 463.

  18. Friend of my wife’s friend at work, early/mid 1980, in Canada, involved in a horrendous car crash.
    The doctor at the hospital ER told us he would have died if it wasn’t for one of his ER nurses seeing the accident happen, rushing over to help.
    He was in intensive care for six months, spent another six months in rehab, learning how to function again.
    Released, had a stroke which paralyzed his left side a month later.
    Slowly comes back, but didn’t look good at all, losing weight, pale complexion, just not right.
    Catches Pneumonia , twice, beats the first, ends up back in hospital with second, dies.
    Autopsy performed, he was one of the first to get HIV from the tainted blood supply used in the car crash ER.

    How would one appropriate blame in that mess.

  19. @John – “how does one actually use bitcoin to buy shopping/petrol or pay utility bills?”

    The same way you would use gold, silver, diamonds, paintings, or other stuff – not at all except by exchanging the stuff for money and using that.

  20. Combining statista and NHS Scotland – there are roughly 8671 UK cases of haemophilia of which 471 are in Scotland (around 1 in 18).

    If haemophilia incidence in Sco in the early 1980s was around 2/3 the national incidence then you would expect there to be fewer cases in Sco of patients receiving contaminated blood products.

  21. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    CJ, in 1980 you would obviously apportion no blame.

    Remember the early AIDS epidemic. Who apart from gay men got it? Yep, IV drug users. There was good reason to suspect, from early on, that it was blood-transmitted.

    Lots of people get blood transfusions but (by and large) only haemophiliacs get the FVIII concentrate, which is, as philip points out, made from thousands of individual donations. The packed cell and plasma you get for other reasons like massive blood loss will come from fewer donors, and thus be less risky. If you got HIV from a “routine” blood transfusion you basically lost the lottery. For haemophilia patients using concentrate, it was almost certain.

    Once a transmission route is known but you have no adequate testing, you have to exclude potentially infected blood from the supply chain. So “ever had butt sex or shared a needle” may be discriminatory and offensive to some (and obsolete today) but was a sensible measure at the time.

    Funnily enough, people paid to donate (USA) were less likely to be scrupulously honest when answering these questions. Those needle users may in fact have, because of the cash in hand, been more numerous among donors than the general population.

    The government arrogates to itself the right to determine which medical products are fit for sale. This includes an assessment of the product’s likelihood to harm recipients. Products get dropped all the time (mostly sponsor never submits) on the basis of a population-level assessment of likely benefit versus risk (indeed, potential individual benefits are thus ignored because of the balance against “overall” safety).

    So the government’s action resulting in liability was in declaring the imported concentrate (via whatever agency) “safe”, and understand this is always with consideration to what else is actually available – there is never any absolute safety with any medicine, despite much of it coming from parts of the USA with a much more advanced HIV epidemic than the UK has ever had.

    As HIV was basically a death sentence at the time, and pretty much all FVIII concentrate was sufficiently contaminated to infect a huge proportion of patients, arguably all concentrate should have been banned regardless of source until such time as an adequate testing regime was in place (you need to identify and reject every single infected individual donation, it’s too late to test after concentration).

    We basically don’t accept death as a side effect of a medicine at all, unless there are no alternatives. When a side effect of the product is almost certain death, after a (then untreatable), avoidable infection, the product is not acceptable.

  22. “As HIV was basically a death sentence at the time”: I note that RFK Jr claims that the death sentence was often a consequence of the treatments performed at the behest of Dr Fauscist. I can’t vouch for RFK’s conclusions but presumably it’s OK to quote them:

    The Real Anthony Fauci reveals how “America’s Doctor” launched his career during the early AIDS crisis by partnering with pharmaceutical companies to sabotage safe and effective off-patent therapeutic treatments for AIDS. Fauci orchestrated fraudulent studies and then pressured US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulators into approving a deadly chemotherapy treatment he had good reason to know was worthless against AIDS. Fauci repeatedly violated federal laws to allow his Pharma partners to …

  23. Answer
    (c) The government’s advisers in the NHS trusted the FDA in the USA.
    The FDA hold themselves up to be the gold standard for regulation.
    The chances of a UK victim of the NHS blood transfusion winning a case in the USA against the FDA for negligence is zero (the chances for a US victim winning is non-zero)

  24. Some of my best friends

    Ah, The Science™, consistently wrong since 1615

    Would this be The Science which has given us, among other things, the internet and modern medicine? I think you meant to say “consistently right”. Even Kenneth Clarke, not speaking for The Science, was technically right, if politically unwise, to say that there was no conclusive proof at the time.

    I can’t vouch for RFK’s conclusions but presumably it’s OK to quote them

    You can quote what you like, but RFK’s book is unmitigated dross.

    Re. Tim’s question: I asked my children, who are pretty well woke, whether we ought to be compensating infected haemophiliacs and their families. They said no.

  25. ‘The Science’ has joined the terms / words used to shut down debate, such as waycist, sexist, homophobe, islamaphobe, transphobe.

    And many people who do not dispute there is something going on* can’t say what is causing it but can categorically state with 100% confidence, what isn’t causing it.

    *Insert problem of your choice.

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