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John Theurer Cancer Center Investigators Report Improved Survival of Lymphoma Patients with COVID-19 in the Modern Treatment and Vaccination Era

John Theurer Cancer CenterOncology

What You Need to Know

John Theurer Cancer Center investigators have published one of the first reports regarding real-world outcomes of people with lymphoma who contracted COVID-19 during the era of modern treatments and vaccination.

They found that the rate of death due to COVID-19 during the omicron surge among people with lymphoma dropped compared to the mortality rate observed prior to the use of monoclonal antibody therapies and vaccines (referred to as the “pre-intervention era”). However, they also found that nearly three-fourths of patients with lymphoma who were hospitalized due to COVID-19 did not receive monoclonal antibody treatment.

The findings, which were published in the August 31, 2022 issue of the journal Cancers, highlight the need for a new approach to treating people with cancer who become infected with COVID-19.

About the Study

This retrospective study looked back at the outcomes of 68 people with lymphoma or chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL, which is similar to a subtype of lymphoma called SLL) at Hackensack University Medical Center who developed COVID-19 during the omicron surge in the United States. The mortality rate from COVID-19 was 9% for all patients (a decline from 34% reported in the pre-intervention era) and 26% for hospitalized patients (versus 60.2% pre-intervention). 

For 30 patients in whom serological data were available, 60% did not develop antibodies after COVID-19 vaccination. Although no difference in mortality or hospitalization between vaccinated and unvaccinated people with lymphoma was found, all patients with serologic data available who were hospitalized or died from COVID-19 were negative for antibodies following vaccination. However, among the patients who did develop antibodies, none of them required hospitalization, indicating that it still remains vitally important to vaccinate patients with lymphoma and CLL against COVID-19.

Among the 34% of patients who were hospitalized, 74% did not receive monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19. The researchers emphasized that monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 is critically important to compensate for the suboptimal immune response in people with lymphoma or CLL, since their disease and its treatment suppress immunity.