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One in 10 cancer patients didn't have a high antibody response after getting their second Covid shot


Fears COVID vaccines won’t be enough to keep many cancer patients safe after one in 10 did not produce high levels of antibodies even after second dose

  • A new study compared cancer patients who got two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to a control group
  • Israeli scientists found 10% of cancer patients to receive COVID-19 vaccine did not develop a high amount of antibodies while everyone in the control group did 
  • All cancer patients developed fewer antibodies than their peers in the control group
  • What the results mean for cancer patients in unknown, as researchers are yet to conclude if the lower antibody levels make them less safe from COVID-19 

Many cancer patients could remain at risk of COVID-19 even after completing their vaccine after a new study found one in ten had low levels of antibodies even after two doses. 

Researchers compared the antibody response of cancer patients to that of people without cancer after receiving two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. 

The Israel-based scientists found that about 10 percent of cancer patients did not have a large antibody response after being inoculated, potentially leaving them exposed to infection. 

The lower antibody responses were found in patients with blood cancers, but not with patients who had tumors.

Blood tests determined that cancer patients are developing lower antibody responses than the average population, and that those with blood cancer in particular are at risk of developing much lower levels of antibodies than their peers

Blood tests determined that cancer patients are developing lower antibody responses than the average population, and that those with blood cancer in particular are at risk of developing much lower levels of antibodies than their peers

10 percent of cancer patients in the study did not have a high antibody response after being vaccinated. Every member of the control group did

10 percent of cancer patients in the study did not have a high antibody response after being vaccinated. Every member of the control group did

For the study, published in JAMA Oncology, 102 cancer patients were recruited, and 78 members of a control group made up of family and friends of cancer patients.

The median age of the cancer patients was 66, while the median age of the control group was 62. 

Patients in the research group had used a variety of treatments previously to combat their cancer, but those who received immunosuppressant therapies were not eligible for the study.

Gastrointestinal, lung and breast cancer were the most common types of cancer among the research group. 

All 78 members of the control group tested positive for a high level of COVID-19 antibodies more than 12 days after receiving the second shot of the Pfizer vaccine. 

However, of the 102 members of the cancer group, only 90 showed high levels of antibodies in blood tests.

What’s more, the antibody levels of the cancer patients overall were significantly lower than those in the control group.

Researchers say there is no data yet on whether a certain level of antibodies makes one more safe against the virus, or if it makes a person safe for longer, with further studies needed to discover what constitutes an acceptable level of antibodies.

They still believe that all of the vaccinated cancer patients are safe from the virus just as those in the control group are, and recommend that everyone get vaccinated when possible, especially those who may be at more risk from COVID like cancer patients.

‘Nonetheless, our findings do suggest that vaccinating such patients during anticancer treatment of any kind should be top priority,’ the authors wrote.

Researchers still recommend that cancer patients get vaccinated to protect themselves from Covid-19. The amount of Americans getting vaccinated every week has been slowly declining over the past month

Researchers still recommend that cancer patients get vaccinated to protect themselves from Covid-19. The amount of Americans getting vaccinated every week has been slowly declining over the past month

About 50 percent of Americans have received at least one shot of a Covid-19 vaccine, with more than 60 percent of adults being at least partially vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, believes the country can prevent all future COVID surges if at least 70 percent of adults get their first shot, per President Joe Biden’s goal.

America is on track to reach that mark by July 4, according to Fauci, but only if the current pace of vaccinations hold up for another month.  



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