Certain Patients With Blood Disorders Do Not Produce Antibodies Following COVID-19 Vaccination

Study may help guide COVID-19 vaccination strategies for patients with blood disorders.

Approximately 15% of people with blood cancers and other blood disorders had no vaccination-related antibodies after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a study presented at the American Society for Hematology Annual Meeting and Exposition. The investigators said that although it was encouraging that 85% of participants did have a measurable antibody response, the findings suggest that additional precautions may be warranted to prevent COVID-19 infection among people with blood disorders

The study examined antibody levels following COVID-19 vaccination in patients with blood disorders, including lymphoid and myeloid neoplasms, autoimmune disorders, and non-cancerous disorders of blood or immune cells. The study data suggest patients with lymphoma and those currently receiving treatment are the least likely to develop antibodies in response to a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the researchers.

“Some patients with hematologic diseases do not have an adequate antibody response and might, therefore, not have sufficient protection from vaccination,” said Susanne Saussele, MD, of III. Medizinische Klinik, Medizinische Fakultät Mannheim, Universität Heidelberg, Germany, in a press release. “This study can help guide vaccination strategies for these patients. In addition, our study suggests that when it is possible to delay beginning treatment for their underlying disorder, it may be best to wait so that a patient can receive a vaccine or booster first.”

The study recruited 373 patients treated for blood disorders at University Hospital Mannheim in Germany and measured vaccine-related antibodies in their blood a median of 12 weeks after final vaccination. More than 90% of the study population had blood cancer, with 9% having either autoimmune disease or a non-malignant blood disorder.

According to the investigators, the rate of negative antibody results among study participants was highest among those with lymphoid neoplasms, a group of diseases that include lymphoma, myeloma, and lymphoid leukemia. In this population, 36% of individuals tested negative for vaccine-related antibodies. Being on active therapy was also associated with a reduced antibody response, with 71% of those who tested negative for vaccine-related antibodies being on active therapy.

“Our study suggests that most people with blood malignancies—not only those who are currently under treatment—should monitor their antibody levels and work closely with their care team to determine how to continue to protect themselves from COVID-19,” Saussele said in the release. “Antibody measurements offer a hint of who has responded to the vaccine and can perhaps ease up on precautions a bit.”

REFERENCE

Some People with Blood Disorders May Continue to Face High Risk of COVID-19 After Vaccination [news release]. ASH; December 11, 2021. Accessed December 13, 2021.