The COVID-19 vaccine boosts the immune system and protects people from serious cases of the virus. In many instances, getting vaccinated is the safeguard between life and death.
Even with the vaccine, people with mesothelioma or other cancers must remain diligent about their exposure to COVID.
A new report in the Annals of Oncology explains how vaccinated cancer patients – even those with the booster shot – can still die from COVID. Around 13% of a small sample of cancer patients died due to the virus.
Vaccinated people can still get infected – a phenomenon called a “breakthrough” case of COVID. Usually, these breakthrough instances are without symptoms. However, some people still experience mild flu-like symptoms despite getting the vaccine. Cancer patients – who have an already-compromised immune system – are at risk of more serious issues.
Mesothelioma in particular occurs near the lungs most times, and COVID is a disease attacking the respiratory system. The close proximity means COVID can impact mesothelioma patients drastically.
Researchers in the study analyzed 1,787 cancer patients who contracted COVID-19. Of them, only 54 were fully vaccinated. Around 65% were hospitalized and 19% needed breathing assistance or were admitted to intensive care. Seven (13%) passed away.
Dr. Jeremy Warner, an associate professor at University of Vanderbilt Medical School, was part of the study. He said cancer, along with age and other comorbidities, are at the top of the risk factors for severe COVID breakthroughs after vaccination.
The rise of the Omicron variant for COVID has led to many breakthrough infections, even among those getting booster shots.
Dr. Dimitrios Farmakiotis, an infectious disease clinician at Medical School of Brown University, said cancer patients “and their close contacts” should be targeted for preventive measures.
Getting vaccinated still improves the odds of withstanding COVID infection. A hospital in Spain reported a 71% death rate among seven mesothelioma patients with COVID. Six of the seven (85%) were hospitalized.
JAMA Oncology showed how two doses of the vaccine protected people with cancer. After one dose, 29% of patients with a solid tumor malignancy expressed enough antibodies to fight COVID. After two doses, 84% of patients were expressing the necessary antibodies.
While there remains a chance of a breakthrough infection occurring and not enough antibodies being generated, the percentage of instances is significantly smaller among vaccinated patients.
Most medical experts say people with mesothelioma should get vaccinated – if they aren’t yet – and receive the booster shot if eligible to do so. We suggest you consult your physician before choosing to receive or not receive the vaccine.
Sources & Author
- Study of fully vaccinated patients with cancer who had breakthrough COVID-19 shows 13% mortality rate. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Retrieved from: https://www.dana-farber.org/newsroom/news-releases/2021/study-of-fully-vaccinated-patients-with-cancer-who-had-breakthrough-covid-19-shows-13–mortality-rate/. Accessed: 01/04/2021.
Sources & Author