A study has shown the very high value of vaccination in cancer patients in protecting against Covid-19
An Italian research sheds light on the importance of protection from the Sars-CoV-2 virus offered by the vaccine. And it confirms that a double dose is needed to obtain the best results in terms of prevention of severe forms of the disease.
This is one of the international studies on the subject: the research was conducted at the Regina Elena – Sapienza Institute in Rome and evaluated the immunological and safety response of the vaccine to mRNA in people affected by cancer.
The second dose at three weeks
The study, published in Clinical Cancer Research, the official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), enrolled 816 patients with different types of solid malignancies, most notably breast (31%), lung (21%) cancer. and melanoma (15%), on active treatment or undergoing treatment in the 6 months prior to the Covid vaccination. The results of the work were presented in a press conference at Sapienza University of Rome.
“All patients received both doses of the vaccine 21 days apart – explains Francesco Cognetti, Professor of Medical Oncology at Sapienza University of Rome and Director of Medical Oncology Regina Elena in Rome. The serological response rate and the positive immunoglobulin (IgG) titer were measured at three different times: before vaccination, at 3 and 7 weeks after the first injection.
The comparison group with healthy people was represented by 274 health workers, who underwent full-cycle anti-Covid immunization. The antibody response rate increased significantly in cancer patients from 59.8% at 21 days after the first dose to 94.2% after 7 weeks. On the other hand, healthy operators showed a response rate of 93.7% as early as 21 days after the first dose (reaching 100% at 7 weeks). All vaccinated cancer patients were followed up with frequent molecular swabs. Overall, only 5 cases (0.6%) of Covid infections, however asymptomatic, were recorded. This confirms the very high value of vaccination in this very fragile patient population ”.
Because it is important
This is the study with the largest case history in the world on the efficacy of the anti Covid vaccine in cancer patients undergoing active treatment. People with cancer are at high risk of serious consequences and death if infected with the virus. However, until now there was very limited scientific evidence on the immunogenicity and safety of the vaccine in this population, as it was excluded from the phase 3 studies that led to the approval of the serum.
The research already published to date has considered only a few dozen cancer patients. Furthermore, this is the first study carried out with serology assessments at three different times: before vaccination, after the first inoculation and after the second. The study clearly shows the fundamental value of the second dose in people affected by cancer and very frail, who must receive it within 21 days of the first, under penalty of the potential risk of contagion.
Foce (Federation of Oncologists, Cardiologists, Hematologists) had already reported the potential dangerous consequences of the delay of the second dose of vaccine for cancer patients undergoing active treatment, in which the timing of the two administrations had to be strictly respected. It should also be said that the antibody response was lower in people treated with chemotherapy and with prolonged use of steroids, precisely because of the immunosuppressive effects of these treatments. The study also revealed the low added value of neutralizing antibodies, even particularly expensive, whose tests can be avoided in cancer patients.
The frequency of local or systemic side effects, in most cases mild, was low and in any case in line with what was observed in healthy subjects, indeed the appearance of side effects expression of the activation of the inflammatory response was observed correlated to a higher rate antibody response.