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COVID-19 Immune Response Weakened by Ongoing Anti-cancer Treatment


The immunological response to COVID-19 is weakened by ongoing anticancer treatment.

COVID-19 Immune Response Weakened by Ongoing Anti-cancer Treatment
Image: Medical Professional in a Laboratory | InStyleHealth

According to a recent study, therapy-naïve patients with hematological malignancies (HM) can generate a higher immune response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Researchers conducted a cross-sectional investigation of 189 HM patients with lab-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection (median age 62.6 years, 63.0% men), of whom 71 were receiving anticancer treatment at the time of infection. Overall, 85.7 percent (n=162) of patients tested positive for anti-receptor binding domain and anti-spike immunoglobulin G seroconversion.

Patients who were undergoing anticancer medicines had lower seroconversion than those who were not (74.1 percent vs 84.1 percent).

Five patients (38.4%) did not seroconvert after being exposed to B-cell/plasma cell-depleting monoclonal antibodies during their illness. The same could be said for 25% of the 44 patients who had had hematopoietic stem cell therapy.

The likelihood of conversion was also influenced by cancer status. The seroconversion rate for patients with stable/progressive illness was 69.7%, compared to 94.9 percent for those in the "watch-and-wait" group.

"Although our findings confirm the reduced seroconversion in HM patients, particularly those with lymphoid disorders or who are receiving chemotherapy-based treatment during SARS-CoV-2 infection, the overall neutralizing humoral response upon natural SARS-CoV-2 infection appears to be quite efficient and sustained overtime, with a consistently more robust response in 'watch and wait' patients," the researchers wrote.

"More efforts should be made to develop tailored vaccine techniques (e.g., boosters or heterologous vaccination) to comprehensively examine the humoral response and ensure the efficacy of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in this particular population of patients," they stated.

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