New study to determine if COVID vaccine prevents infection or eases symptoms in cancer patients

NEWS AT A GLANCE

While COVID-19 cases have declined, one segment of the population remains particularly cautious, namely cancer patients.

In a new research study, researchers investigated whether the COVID-19 vaccine could prevent infection or reduce the risk of severe disease in these patients. And, WINK News Health and Medical Reporter Amy Oshier says the results are promising.

Cancer patients remain at high risk of COVID-19 infection. Dan Burkus has prostate cancer. “Well, if you have cancer, you have a weakened immune system, so I was very happy to get the vaccine,” Burkus said.

But how much difference does the vaccine make for cancer patients like Burkus. That’s the question the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tamps tried to answer. Dr. Jeff Lancte is one of the principal investigators of this study. “We tested patients, just testing their blood for the antibody response,” Dr. Lancet said.

They followed 515 cancer patients who received the Moderna vaccine. They took blood samples before the first and second doses of the vaccine, and then again a month later. Each sample was tested for COVID-19 antibodies.

“Over 90% experienced a positive antibody response after the second dose, which is good,” said Dr. Lancet. “The overall response rate in patients treated with chemotherapy was high, which is good to know. So even people with longer breast cancer or other types of cancer who were on chemotherapy had a good chance of responding to the vaccine.

The researchers measured the antibody levels of 18 healthy adults receiving the same vaccine for comparison. They also looked at the results by type of cancer.

“Often patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia lymphomas, these patients experienced a lower overall response rate,” he said.

Moffitt continues to follow those who participated in the study by taking blood samples at six, 12 and 24 months.

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