Response to the COVID-19 Vaccine in Blood Cancer Patients

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society conducted a large trial to examine if the mRNA (Pfizer and Moderna) COVID-19 vaccines provided antibody protection against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in people with a blood cancer. It was just published in Cancer Cell.

Two weeks after their second COVID-19 vaccine 1400 blood cancer patients had their antibody levels tested via serology. Patients were classified as seronegative if they had no detectable antibody protection to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Top line results showed:
• Approximately 75 percent of all blood cancer patients developed antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 following the vaccine.
• The percentage of non-Hodgkin patients that were seronegative after the vaccination ranged from 21-56 percent.
• Amongst the 64 patients tested with Hodgkin Lymphoma only was seronegative.
• More patients with multiple myeloma had antibodies to the virus than any other blood cancer type.
• One third of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia patients were seronegative to SARS-CoV-2.
• Six out of seven patients who had CAR T-cell therapy (CLL, DLBCL or FL) were seronegative to SARS-CoV-2.
• Treatment with BTK inhibitors, anti CD20, mAb or combinations with venetoclax generated more seronegative results to SARS-CoV-2 compared to those who had not received therapy.

In general, the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine provides protection against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the majority of blood cancer patients.

All blood cancer patients should however be cautious and practice prevention measures such as wearing masks, avoiding crowds, washing hands and practicing social distancing.

For more detailed results please read the publication in Cancer Cell.

Greenberger, L. M., Saltzman, L. A., Senefeld, J. W., Johnson, P. W., Degennaro, L. J., & Nichols, G. L.. (2021). Antibody response to SARS-CoV-2 vaccines in patients with hematologic malignancies. Cancer Cell.