In a new study from the Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center, researchers found most cancer patients who had no measurable immune response after being fully vaccinated for COVID-19 were helped by a third vaccine dose.
They also found that a “booster” shot is extremely beneficial for all cancer patients, who face a heightened risk of severe disease and dying from COVID-19, and particularly in people who have a blood cancer.
In the study, the team tested two groups of patients with cancer. The first was composed of 99 people who were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
They were tested after their initial vaccination for the presence of antiviral antibodies in their blood—the sign of an active immune response that would reduce their risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19.
For most patients with detectable antibodies, their antibody levels declined when testing was repeated 4 to 6 months later.
The people in the second group, made up of 88 fully vaccinated patients with cancer, were also tested for the presence of antiviral antibodies in their blood.
64% percent of them had detectable antibodies, while the remaining patients (all but one of whom had blood cancer) tested negative for antibodies.
All participants—people with and without antibodies—then received a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Four weeks later, when their blood was again tested, 79.5% (70 out of 88 people) had antibody levels that were higher than before they received their booster shot.
Most notably, 56% of cancer patients who previously had no detectable antibodies after standard vaccination now had them after receiving their booster shot.
The study demonstrates in clear terms how the booster shot can make all the difference for some people with compromised immune systems, such as people with cancer.
For more information about COVID and your health, please see recent studies about many younger healthy men with severe COVID-19 may have these gene mutation and results showing that COVID-related brain damage more likely in these people.
The study is published in Cancer Cell. One author of the study is Lauren Shapiro, M.D.
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