Chemo patients’ response to vaccine improves with booster
Tucson, Az. – A new study helped quantify the improved protection against COVID-19 achieved with a third booster dose of the vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE in cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy.
Co-author of the study, Deepta Bhattacharya of the University of Arizona College of Medicine, reported in Nature Medicine that her team studied 53 patients receiving chemotherapy for solid-tumour cancers who received two shots of the vaccine.
Almost all the subjects had an immune response after vaccination.
“Chemotherapy can weaken the ability of cancer patients to fight off infections and to respond appropriately to vaccines,” Bhattacharya said.
But “the magnitude of these responses was worse than in people without cancer in almost every metric that we measured,” she said.
“In all likelihood, this leaves cancer patients more susceptible to infection and COVID-19 than healthy vaccinated people.”
The researchers were able to bring back 20 of the study participants for a third vaccine dose, to see if immune responses would improve.
“The levels of antibodies improved in about 80 per cent of the cancer patients,” Bhattacharya said. “Our data on cancer patients supports the CDC’s broad guidelines that people who are immunocompromised should receive a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine.”