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Briefings and Position Statements

COVID-19 vaccine dosing schedules (January 2021)

The Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) recently announced changes to the dosing schedule for the two approved COVID-19 vaccines (Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech) of a 12-week gap between first and second dose, based on recommendations from the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). We have produced a statement that lays out our position on these announcements.

Read the full statement >

Briefing for House of Commons debate on World Antibiotics Awareness Week (November 2017)

On World Antibiotics Awareness week (13-19 November 2017), the House of Commons held a general debate on Antimicrobial resistance (AMR). For this, we provided a briefing outlining the how immunology could contribute in the battle against AMR. The increasing threat of AMR to antibiotics is a global problem with an estimated 700,000 deaths occurring every year as a result of AMR infections. Immunological research has the potential to find alternative infectious disease interventions, both preventative and therapeutic, such as novel vaccines and immunotherapy.

Transplantation is the process of moving cells, tisues or organs from one site to another for the purpose of replacing or repaing damaged or diseased organs and tissues. It saves thousands of lives each year. However, the immune system poses a significant barrier to successful organ transplantation when tissues/organs are transferred from one individual to another. 

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General Election 2017: Five points to raise with your local candidates (May 2017)

With the general election imminent, it's now more important than ever to keep science high on the political agenda. The next five years are going to be crucial for shaping the country's future research capabilities as we head towards Brexit, with key decisions on immigration, research funding and an industrial strategy all in the offing.

This list of discussion points sets out the key points immunologists should raise with local candidates to find out their views and highlight the importance of immunology and science to this country's future. 

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Allergy (April 2017)

An allergy is an unnecessary immune response to an innocuous substance. Examples of common substances people are allergic to include pollens, dust mites, insect venom and food such as nuts or shellfish. Allergies can range in severity with the most extreme symptoms seen in anaphylaxis. Every year in the UK, the number of allergy cases increases, mainly in children. This briefing should help illustrate how allergy develops and possible reasons for increasing prevalence. 

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Briefing for House of Lords debate on Neglected Tropical Diseases (April 2017)

Neglected tropical diseases are a huge global health burden for developing countries. Immunological research will be critical to better understand the complex organisms that cause these diseases, and to develop new treatments for them. In this briefing for a House of Lords debate we describe the neglected tropical diseases listed in the 2012 London Declaration aims, the progress to date, and the action required to meet the Declaration aims by 2020. 

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Immunodeficiency (March 2017)

Immunodeficiency disorders result in a full or partial impairment of the immune system. Primary immunodeficiencies are the result of genetic defects, and secondary immunodeficiencies are caused by environmental factors, such as HIV/AIDS or malnutrition. This briefing explains the two different types of immunodeficiencies and how they are currently treated. It also discusses the future research required in this field to develop better curative treatments for these immune disorders.

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Statement on findings of GMC review of training in Allergy and Immunology (February 2017)

The British Society for Immunology has released a statement in support of the recent review by the General Medical Council into training in allergy and immunology. The review focused on the delivery of postgraduate education programmes in the medical specialties of allergy and immunology and considered the policies, processes and systems in place to support them.

Read the full statement >

Cancer immunotherapy (December 2016)

Cancer is a global issue and one of the leading causes of death in the developed world. Every year, there are some 14 million new cases of cancer diagnosed worldwide with 350 000 of said cases occurring in the UK.  Traditional cancer treatments include chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. A new class of cancer therapies, collectively termed cancer immunotherapy, is designed to reactivate the body's immune response to cancer, Immunotherapy is showing exciting promise, with clear benefit now demonstrated in some cancers such as melanoma, lung, kidney and Hodgkin's lymphoma. 

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Briefing for House of Lords debate on potential impacts of the UK's withdrawal from the EU on funding for universities and scientific research (October 2016)

Science is a global pursuit. Spending on research must be considered in that context and pays back handsomely in driving national prosperity; however, we lag behind key competitor nations in research spend. This BSI briefing considers funding within this context and outlines some of the potential implications for UK researchers that may arise as a result of our withdrawal from the EU.

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Briefing for Westminster Hall debate on the meningitis B vaccine (April 2016)

Meningitis is a rare albeit devastating disease that can severely affect young children and families. The BSI is acutely aware of the burden of this disease and the extraordinary public debate that has arisen around the issue of Men B vaccine provision. In this briefing we set out some of the background to decision making around vaccine supply. We also propose a set of principles which we believe should be upheld both throughout this decision making process and beyond into implementation.

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Autoimmunity (March 2016)

Autoimmunity involves a misdirection of the body’s immune system against its own tissues, causing a large number of diseases. More than 80 autoimmune conditions have been identified; some affecting a single organ, while others are systemic and impact multiple sites of the body. Treatment options are limited and are most often used to mitigate symptoms rather than treat the underlying cause. Consequently, many autoimmune conditions are chronic in nature and therefore place a large burden on the NHS and national economies. It is therefore imperative that immune research receives the necessary investment needed so that we can better understand these conditions in order to identify new therapeutic approaches.

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Seasonal flu and the influenza vaccine (December 2015)

With the flu season descending on the UK it is important that all those who qualify for the free seasonal flu vaccination ensure that they receive the vaccine. As firm supporters of such immunisation programmes the BSI are strong advocates for providing the required information around the flu vaccine and highlight its importance. In this document we go into what the flu and flu vaccine are, whilst also looking at why it is necessary to have a new flu vaccine each year.

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Briefing for House of Lords short debate on Lyme Disease (October 2015)

Immunology plays a key role in understanding the progression, diagnosis, and treatment of Lyme disease. In this briefing for a House of Lords debate, we describe the prevalence and mechanism of transmission of the infection as well as outlining some of the issues associated with diagnosis and treatment. We also examine the controversial issue of “chronic” Lyme disease, which has been used as an explanation for long-standing poor health in some patients. 

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Letter to the Chancellor on immunisation (October 2015)

We wrote to the Chancellor to highlight the importance of protecting the public health budget in the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review to safeguard the current delivery and future potential of the UK’s immunisation programme. A shortened version of this letter was published in The Times and you can also read BSI President, Professor Peter Openshaw, discuss the issue in a blog post here.

Read the full letter >

Vaccines (September 2015)

Vaccines have arguably made a greater contribution to health and wellbeing than any other medical intervention, reducing illness and disability from diseases which were widespread before immunisation. This BSI briefing explains what vaccines are and how they work, outlines their importance for health, and discusses their safety. The document also explores the future of vaccine technology, including the promise shown by development of vaccines against non-communicable diseases such as cancer.

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Proposal to build a vaccines research network (September 2015)

This policy briefing outlines a proposal for the creation of a network of vaccines research centres. This proposal aims to better harness world-class academic and industrial centres of excellence and to position the UK as a global leader in vaccines research and development. The same model could be used to improve resilience to infectious disease threats and this document builds on our submission to the Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry into lessons learned from the Ebola outbreak.

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Animal Research (September 2015)

This position statement outlines the BSI’s views on the use of animals in scientific research.

Read the full position statement >