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For Blood Cancer Patients, COVID-19 Vaccination Timing Matters

January 14, 2022 • 3:02 pm CST
(Vax Before Cancer)

A study published in the journal Blood on January 6, 2022, aimed to assess which factors contributed to the impaired antibody response after COVID-19 vaccination. Patients with hematological neoplasms, including lymphoma patients, have a high risk for severe COVID-19 disease.

The interval between the last anti-CD20 treatment and dosing of the COVID-19 vaccine was positively associated with increasing seroconversion rates.

Patients with their last anti-CD20 treatment at least 12 months before their first vaccination benefitted most with an overall response (OR) rate of 68%.

In contrast, response rates in patients who had received their last anti-CD20 treatment within 3 months to 12 months or <3 months were decreased with 22% (>12 vs 3 months to 12 months; P = .001) and 16% (>12 months vs <3 months; P < .001), respectively.

We further investigated if antibody response rates differed between patients who received anti-CD20 monotherapy or combination treatment with chemotherapy.

 No statistically significant difference was found between these subgroups (anti-CD20 monotherapy 36%, anti-CD20/chemotherapy 56%, P = .2).

And cancer patients who received anti-CD20 treatment and novel agents or novel agents after the failure of anti-CD20 containing treatments had very low seroconversion rates (17% and 0%, respectively).

The seroconversion rate after homologous mRNA-based vaccination was 41%, 0% after non-mRNA-based vaccination, and 71% after heterologous vaccination.

'Of note, even if infections cannot be prevented, it is still possible that T-cell responses are sufficient to ensure a mild course of COVID-19 disease. Taken together, COVID-19 vaccinations might be beneficial for anti-CD20-treated patients due to T-cell immunity,' concluded this letter.

Correspondence: Sascha Dietrich, Department of Hematology, University Hospital of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 410, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany; e-mail: [email protected].