Study: COVID-19 Vaccines Provide Effective Protection for Individuals With Cancer


These patients had comparable levels of antibodies to individuals without the disease after a 2-dose course of the vaccination.

New findings confirm that COVID-19 vaccinations protect individuals with cancer without experiencing any more adverse effects than the public, according to a presentation at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO).

“The high rates of efficacy of the vaccine observed across the trial population, regardless of the type of anticancer treatment, constitute a strong and reassuring message for patients and their doctors,” Antonio Passaro, MD, PhD, lung cancer expert at the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, Italy, and an ESMO press officer, said in a statement.

In the VOICE study, 791 individuals from multiple hospitals in the Netherlands participated.

The individuals were separated into 4 difference groups: individuals without cancer; patients with cancer treated with immunotherapy; those treated with chemotherapy; and those treated with a hybrid chemo-immunotherapy.

Investigators measured their response to both doses of Moderna’s mRNA-1273 vaccine.

The antibody levels of the virus were found in 84% of individuals receiving chemotherapy, 89% of patients receiving chemo-immunotherapy, and 93% of those receiving immunotherapy compared with 99.6% of those without cancer.

The study was replicated for a second part to analyze the effects of Pfizer-BioNTech, with 232 individuals with cancer and 261 individuals without cancer. After the first dose, just 29% of individuals with cancer developed antibodies compared with 84% of individuals without cancer.

After the second dose, 86% of individuals with cancer developed antibodies.

Passaro emphasized the importance of completing the 2-dose vaccinations for individuals with cancer to help develop protective antibodies.

Results from the CAPTURE study were also presented at ESMO. It showed that individuals who had previously been infected with COVID-19 had higher levels of antibodies, including against other variants. A fourth study was conducted that showed vaccinations was significantly enhanced, even after the first dose, for individuals with cancer who recovered from COVID-19.

“These findings lend additional support to the principle of offering the complete cycle, possibly including a third booster dose, to patients with cancer to improve their protection, because it suggests their immune system will respond to the extra stimulation,” Luis Castelo-Branco, Medical Oncologist, ESMO Scientific and Medical Division, said in the statement.

Results of a separate study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that individuals aged 60 years and older had a reduced incidence of COVID-19 and severe illness after a vaccine booster 5 months after completing their initial vaccination cycle.

“More data is needed to better understand for whom and when these vaccination boosts should be considered, but in general it would make sense to prioritize all patients with compromised immune function, including patients with cancer,” Castelo-Branco said.

There were no new adverse events reported in the results presented at the ESMO Congress 2021.


The evidence is in: COVID vaccines do protect patients with cancer. EurekAlert. News release. September 20, 2021. Accessed September 21, 2021.

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