CMAAO Coronavirus Facts And Myth Buster: Response to COVID in patients with hematologic cancers

With input from Dr Monica Vasudev

1414: Patients with cancer, especially the ones who had solid tumors, mounted an immune response to COVID-19 which was similar to that noted among those without cancer. However, among patients with hematologic cancers, the immune response was less marked and was highly variable. It took longer to clear the virus in these patients. The findings have been reported in a UK study published online in Cancer Cell as a preprint article.

The study is somewhat reassuring for care providers as many of the patients with solid cancers will develop a good immune response, develop antibodies that will persist, and would probably be able to resume their cancer treatment soon. This suggests that several patients, despite being on immunosuppressive therapies, will have a satisfactory response to COVID-19 vaccines.

While according to the findings, solid cancer patients will likely mount an efficient immune response to the vaccine, the same may not be true for hematological cancers, particularly B-cell malignancies. They may be susceptible to persistent infection in spite of developing antibodies.

The best way to protect these patients besides vaccinating them may be to vaccinate their healthcare providers and carers and continue with mask wearing, practicing social distancing, and testing asymptomatic individuals.

[Source: Medscape]

Dr KK Aggarwal

President CMAAO, HCFI and Past National President IMA

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