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Covid-19: Vaccine effectiveness wanes more rapidly for cancer patients, study finds


Covid-19 vaccination is effective for cancer patients but protection wanes much more rapidly than in the general population, a large study has found.

Vaccine effectiveness is much lower in people with leukaemia or lymphoma, those with a recent cancer diagnosis, and those who have had radiotherapy or systemic anti-cancer treatments within the past year, according to the research published in Lancet Oncology.

The authors of the world’s largest real world health system evaluation of Covid-19 in cancer patients highlighted the importance of booster programmes, non-pharmacological strategies, and access to antiviral treatment programmes in order to reduce the risk that Covid-19 poses to cancer patients.

Peter Johnson, professor of medical oncology at the University of Southampton and joint author of the study, said, “This study shows that for some people with cancer, covid-19 vaccination may give less effective and shorter lasting protection. This highlights the importance of vaccination booster programmes and rapid access to covid-19 treatments for people undergoing cancer treatments.”

Study leader, Lennard Lee, department of oncology, University of Oxford, said, “Cancer patients should be aware that at 3-6months they are likely to have less protection from their coronavirus vaccine than people without cancer. It is important that people with a diagnosis of cancer are up to date with their coronavirus vaccination and have had their spring booster if they are eligible.”

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Source: BMJ, 24 May 2022

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