Population-scale study highlights ongoing risk of COVID-19 in some cancer patients despite vaccination

A study co-led by the UK Coronavirus Cancer Evaluation Project published today in The Lancet Oncology and co-led by the Universities of Oxford, Birmingham and Southampton and the UK Health Protection Agency (UKHSA) has found that COVID-19 vaccination is effective in most cancers. The level of protection from patients, COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death provided by the vaccine is lower than in the general population and the effectiveness of the vaccine decreases more quickly.

Dr Lenard Lee, Department of Oncology at the University of Oxford, who led the study, said: ‘We know that people with cancer have a higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease and that cancer patients have a lower immune response after COVID-19 vaccination. Is. However, no studies have looked at the effectiveness and incidence of vaccines in cancer patients at the population level. We have conducted the largest real world health system assessment of COVID-19 in cancer patients globally.

The study analyzed 377,194 individuals with active or recent cancer who had received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and underwent SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing in England.1, Number of successful COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations and deaths associated with COVID-192 This group of cancer patients was compared to a control population without active or recent cancer.

The overall vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 infection in the general population was 69.8% after two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine during the study period, whereas, in the cancer cohort, the overall vaccine effectiveness was slightly lower (65.5%). This indicates that COVID-19 vaccination is effective in most cancer patients. However, the effectiveness of the vaccine declines more rapidly in cancer patients. At 3–6 months after the second vaccine dose, vaccine effectiveness decreased by almost a third from 61.4% in the general population to 47.0% in the cancer cohort.

While the vaccine provided high protection against COVID-19-associated hospitalization (83.3%) and death (93.4%) against breakthrough infection in the cancer cohort, this protection also appeared 3–6 months after the second dose of the vaccine. decreases to .

Looking at the differences between people with different types of cancer, the effectiveness of the vaccine is lowest and most rapidly decreased in people with the blood cancers lymphoma and leukemia.

The type of treatment people with cancer receive affects both the overall vaccine effectiveness and the incidence. In cancer patients treated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy in the past 12 months, the effectiveness of the vaccine is lower and decreased over 3-6 months, compared with cancer patients who have not received these treatments or for more than a year was treated a long time ago.

Professor Peter Johnson, Professor of Medical Oncology, University of Southampton, commented: ‘This study suggests that for some people with cancer, COVID-19 vaccination may provide less effective and shorter-lasting protection. It highlights the importance of vaccination booster programs and faster access to COVID-19 treatments for people undergoing cancer treatment.

Helen Rowntree, Director of Research, Services and Engagement at Blood Cancer UK, said: ‘For our community, COVID-19 has not gone very far and the risk of COVID-19 highlighted in this important study has caused many people to stay in their homes. live. , We know how important vaccines are for people with blood cancer. This study significantly shows that immunity declines rapidly in people with blood cancer who are entitled to five vaccine doses, and we would encourage all people with blood cancer to make sure they are getting these doses. is.’

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Material provided by University of Oxford, Note: Content can be edited for style and length.

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