Individuals With Blood Cancer Can Still Get COVID-19, Even if Vaccinated

Study results show that those with lymphoproliferative disorders are the most likely to develop the virus after vaccination.

Individuals with blood cancer do not always achieve optimal protection against COVID-19 from vaccination, results of a study show.

“Before vaccination, if our patients with hematologic malignancies developed COVID-19, they died in a lot of cases,” Livio Pagano, MD, of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Italy, said in a statement. “With these preliminary data, we showed that vaccination is not able to completely protect, but surely it has a strong role in reducing the mortality for COVID-19 for people with blood cancers.”

More than 3 of 4 of breakthrough cases occurred in fully vaccinated individuals. Approximately 23% had been partially vaccinated, receiving just 1 dose of an mRNA vaccine, when they became infected.

Of the breakthrough cases, 79 individuals experienced critical or severe COVID-19 infection, with 75 needing hospitalization.

At the follow up of 30 days after the COVID-19 diagnosis, 14 (12.4%) individuals died, and COVID-19 was deemed the cause of death for all but 1 individual.

Although the breakthrough cases of infection were high, they are much lower than before the vaccines were available, investigators said.

Previous study results show that individuals with blood cancers and COVID 19 had mortality rates ranging from 30% to 50%, depending on the types of underlying blood cancer.

Investigators gathered data from an open online registry, EPICOVIDEHA, which collects reports of individuals with blood cancer who developed COVID-19. Of 4000 total cases, as of August 31, 2021, there were 113 reported cases of COVID-19 after vaccination.

“Unfortunately, people with lymphomas are more likely to have suppressed immune systems and to develop infections, and it is no different for COVID-19,” Pagano said. “In future studies we will look at the efficacy of additional vaccine doses to understand if they can reduce infection in our patients, especially those with lymphoproliferative disorders.”

The study results also show that the level of COVID-19 response was associated with the type of underlying blood cancer. Individuals with myeloproliferative disorders were least likely to develop COVID-19 after vaccination, and individuals with lymphoproliferative disorders were most likely.

About 80% of breakthrough COVID-19 cases were individuals with lymphoproliferative disorders.

The type of COVID-19 did not affect the risk of breakthrough cases.

The results were published in Blood, a journal from the American Society of Hematology.

Reference

Study finds COVID-19 breakthrough cases can be severe for people with blood cancers. EurekAlert. News release. November 8, 2021. Accessed November 9, 2021. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/934005