A report is due on the UK’s infected blood scandal, the country’s worst public health disaster

A report is due on the UK's infected blood scandal, the country's worst public health disaster

LONDON: Britain’s government is expected to apologize on Monday as an inquiry is to publish a final report into the UK‘s infected blood scandal, which saw tens of thousands of people infected with HIV and hepatitis after being given contaminated blood and blood products from the 1970s to early 1990s.
An estimated 3,000 people are believed to have died and many others were left with lifelong illnesses in the scandal, widely seen as the deadliest disaster in the history of Britain’s state-run National Health Service since its inception in 1948.
The inquiry is to publish its findings Monday after campaigners fought for decades to bring official failings to light and secure government compensation. Over the past four years the inquiry has reviewed evidence from more than 5,000 witnesses and more than 100,000 documents.
The inquiry heard estimates that more than 30,000 people, including hundreds of children, were infected with HIV or hepatitis C, a kind of liver infection, from contaminated blood or blood products provided by the public health system.
Many of those affected were people with hemophilia, a condition affecting the blood’s ability to clot. In the 1970s, patients were given a new treatment that the UK imported from the United States. Some of the plasma used to make the blood products was traced to high-risk donors, including prison inmates, who were paid to give blood samples.
Because manufacturers of the treatment mixed plasma from thousands of donations, one infected donor would compromise the whole batch.
Others were infected through tainted blood transfusions that were given to patients after childbirth, surgery or accidents.
Britain’s government is expected to pay compensation of about 10 billion pounds ($12.7 billion) in all to victims, though details about that payment are not expected until Tuesday.
Des Collins, a lawyer representing 1,500 of the victims, called the report’s publication a “day of truth.”
“They have spent years bravely telling their stories, campaigning and spurring collective action in order to get to this point. For some, it has been 40 years since their lives were forever blighted or loved ones were lost in cruel circumstances,” he said. “Several thousands, sadly, have not lived to see this day.”
Diana Johnson, a lawmaker who has long campaigned for the victims, said she hoped that those found responsible for the disaster will face justice including prosecution – though the investigations have taken so long that some of the key players may well have died since.
“There has to be accountability for the actions that were taken, even if it was 30, 40, 50 years ago,” she said.

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