Infected Blood Inquiry

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The taintedblood Timeline  -  what really happened...

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Magna Carta - 15th June, 1215

No of entries selected: 4 of 711
West Germany Introduces a Surrogate Test for NANBH in 1965
In the Haemophilia Society's 'Submission to the Archer Inquiry' of 2007, we learn of how many countries used surrogate tests to determine the presence of Non-A Non-B hepatitis (now Hepatitis C):

"The UK was one of the last countries in the western world to introduce a test for hepatitis C. Prior to the discovery of a specific test in 1989, many countries used surrogate tests. These tested people for raised ALT (liver enzyme) levels or hepatitis B. Although surrogate tests were crude and showed a high number of false positives, many countries thought it best to err on the side of caution."

"West Germany introduced a surrogate test in 1965."

"Other European countries such as Italy and France followed suit. The USA introduced surrogate tests in September 1986."

Note: Whilst the main thrust of this entry is to draw attention to the fact that West Germany introduced a surrogate test in 1965, we dispute the reference in the submission that a specific test for HCV was discovered in 1989. We firmly believe that the Chiron Corporation discovered, cloned and sequenced the Hepatitis C virus - the causative agent of Non-A Non-B Hepatitis (NANBH) two years earlier, in 1987. (see related entries link below.)

Source: Secondary Source: Haemophilia Society Submission to the Archer Inquiry (2007):
Link #2
Type: Haemophilia Society - Submission to the Archer Inquiry (2007) - Page 23, paragraph 4.
Location: Germany
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26 March
Landmark Legal Action - Mr Justice Burton - HCV Litigation
A landmark case, A vs. National Blood Authority, is brought by 114 people infected with HCV via contaminated blood. Mr Justice Burton rules compensation be paid by the National Blood Authority and Velindre NHS Trust.
Source: Link #1
Additional Source: A vs. National Blood Authority
Link #3
Type: Legal Action (Hansard)
Location: UK
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26 March
Commencement of Anti-Hep C Screening by Country

On 18th November 1987, Chiron Corporation filed a priority application in the USA for a patent describing the cloning and characterization of Hepatitis C virus as the causative agent of Non-A, Non-B Hepatitis.

The development of HCV tests then followed, with Chiron developing an alliance with Ortho Clinical Diagnostics. Understandably, following these discoveries, time was required in order to validate and register the HCV assay globally.


The following timetable shows when various countries commenced anti-Hep C screening in relation to the Ortho test evaluation and trials:

tr> tr> tr> tr> tr>
Nov 1989 Japan
Feb 1990 Australia
Mar 1990 France (1 March): Luxembourg (new donors only, 1 March)
Apr 1990 Finland (1 April – all donations: partially started 1 February)
May 1990 USA
May 1990 Austria (2 May): Amsterdam (other Netherlands Centres later)
Jun 1990 Canada: Germany (by 1 July)
Jul 1990 Belgium (1 July)
Aug 1990 Switzerland (1 August)
Sep 1990 Luxembourg (all donors)
Oct 1990 Italy: (many centres)
Oct 1990 Spain: (all by 12 October, some earlier)
1990/91 Norway
Jan 1991 Sweden (legal requirement published 24 January to start as soon as possible)
Mar 1991 (not before Mar) Portugal (mandatory)
Mar 1991 (some earlier): Cyprus: Greece: Hungary: Iceland: Malta
Apr 1991 Netherlands (mandatory 1 April)
Jun 1991 Denmark
Aug 1991 Italy (balance)
Sep 1991 UK (1 September)
Sep/Oct 1991 Ireland

Note: It is clear that the United Kingdom were in no hurry to introduce anti-HCV screening. Indeed, they could be said to have deliberately procrastinated, making them the last-but-one country in this list to introduce screening. This is consistent with what the Science and Technology Select Committee Inquiry report referred to as an over-optimistic "wait and see" stance, instead of taking the maximum precautionary approach. It is also possible to learn more about what can only be described as procrastination and stalling of the introduction of HCV testing by reading Chapter 9 of the Penrose Preliminary Report.

Source: Link #1
Type: Court Ruling - Justice Burton Judgment
Location: UK
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26 March
Countries which Introduced Surrogate Testing

Surrogate testing involved the use of non-specific tests for the purpose of reducing the incidence of transfusion association NANB Hepatitis. It is notable that routine ALT (alanine aminotransferase) testing was in effect in West Germany from 1965.

Germany 1965 (ALT)
Italy 1970 (ALT)
USA September 1986 onwards (both)
Luxembourg October 1 1986
Mid 1987 (for new donors)
France 15 April 1988
3 October 1988
Switzerland 1 June 1988 (ALT)
Malta Early 1989 (ALT)

"There was some partial routine ALT testing in certain centres in Austria, Belgium and Spain, from about 1987, and Queensland (alone of the Australian states) introduced compulsory ALT testing in about April 1989. Dr Högman told the Council of Europe in 1987 that Sweden was to introduce anti-HBc testing for first time donors, but he explained in evidence that this was intended in fact as a supplementary Hepatitis B screening. No other countries, so far as is known, ever introduced either test."

Note: It is unsurprising that surrogate testing had not been introduced in the UK - something that the claimants alleged should have happened, especially in light of the fact that the USA introduced both ALT and anti-HBc from September 1986 onwards.

Source: Link #1
Type: Court Ruling - Justice Burton Judgment
Location: UK
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