Recently, oncologists from a network of oncology center-based care and research centers including the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Vanderbilt University, and others report that people with cancer who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 still face considerable risks of death due to the breakthrough infection. Put simply, even if someone with cancer gets fully vaccinated for COVID-19, they still remain a high-risk candidate for serious hospitalization or death. This study was conducted between Nov. 1, 2020, and May 31, 2021 prior to booster vaccine recommendations in the United States.

Led by a group of 129 trial sites monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on cancer patients called the Cancer Consortium or CCC19, the results were recently published in the Annals of Oncology, the research team’s peer-reviewed results reveal that those people that are both afflicted with cancer and classified as fully vaccinated are not only susceptible to breakthrough infections (meaning they still get infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19) but also face troubling forecasts:

  • Astronomically high hospitalization rate of 65%
  • ICU or mechanical ventilation rate of 19%
  • Death rate of 13%

The Vaccines

The study team reported that they studied the following vaccines for fully dosed individuals: (two doses of either Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or one dose of J&J) with the last vaccine dose administered long enough prior to breakthrough COVID-19 thus considered fully vaccinated.

The Study Demonstrates Higher Risk

The consortium identified 1,787 patients with cancer and COVID-19 for the study, the vast majority of which were unvaccinated. The number of fully vaccinated was 54, and 46% of those fully vaccinated had reduced levels of lymphocytes — the T cells and B cells responsible for immunological responses to viruses. Lymphopenia commonly occurs in patients with cancer receiving anti-CD20 monoclonal antibodies or CAR-T-cell treatments for hematologic malignancies, including lymphoma and leukemia.Subscribe to the Trialsitenews “Cancer” ChannelNo spam – we promise

The study appears to support previous observations that patients with hematologic malignancies are at greater risk for severe outcomes from COVID-19. However, the number of patients in the study is too small to make definitive conclusions about specific types of anticancer therapies that might be associated with breakthrough infections, the researchers noted. Patients on a treatment regimen of corticosteroids also appeared to be more susceptible to hospitalization.

The Cancer Consortium or CCC19

The COVID-19 Cancer Consortium (CCC19) represents a consortium of academic medical centers and health system trial site organizations focusing on cancer research and care with the driving goal of collecting and disseminating prospective, granular, uniformly organized information on people with cancer who are diagnosed with COVID-19 at scale and as fast as possible.

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