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May Agrees Inquiry Into U.K.'s Tainted Blood Transfusions

  • Patients were given contaminated blood in 1970s and 1980s
  • May spokesman says 2,400 people have died as a result

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May announced an inquiry into transfusions of blood contaminated with HIV and hepatitis C that were given to thousands of people over a period of more than a decade.

Patients in Britain’s National Health Service, many of them hemophiliacs, were given the tainted transfusions in the 1970s and the 1980s. Pressure had been growing on May to agree to a public inquiry, and the government’s announcement on Tuesday came just hours before Parliament was due to debate the issue.

“It’s a tragedy that has caused unimaginable hardship and pain to all affected,” May’s spokesman, James Slack, told reporters in London. He said 2,400 people had died, and it is “necessary to establish the causes of this appalling injustice.”

The exact format of the inquiry has yet to be established, but it is likely to look not only at how the patients came to be given the blood, but whether there was a cover-up by NHS and government officials. Slack said it will be “wide-ranging.”

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