Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Safe, Achieves Serologic Status in Cancer Patients

While the efficacy of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines have been demonstrated, a lack of data is present for patients with cancer.

A recent study, conducted by investigators from the Rambam Health Care Campus in Israel, has found that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, BNT162b2, is safe and achieved satisfactory serologic status in patients with cancer.

Findings from the study were published in the journal JAMA Oncology.

“To our knowledge, this study is the first to prospectively characterize the serologic status, immunogenicity, and safety of the BNT162b2 vaccine in a cohort of patients with solid tumors who are receiving active anticancer therapies,” the authors wrote. “The study was conducted at the Division of Oncology of RHCC, the major tertiary medical center of northern Israel, which serves a heterogeneous population that represents patients with cancer throughout the country.”

For the study, the team of investigators enrolled and followed 232 patients with cancer and 261 healthy, age-matched healthcare workers who were vaccinated as part of a mass vaccination effort. The participants were followed between January 15 and March 14 of 2021.

The participants with cancer were receiving active treatment after both the first and second doses of the vaccine.

Findings from the study demonstrated that 29% of the cancer patients were seropositive after the first dose, compared to 84% of the control group. After the second dose, 86% of the cancer patients were seropositive.

Additionally, patients who were undergoing chemotherapy at the time of the study showed a reduced immunogenicity.

While there were no cases of COVID-19 documented throughout the period of the study, 2 cases were noted following the first dose in the patient group.

“Our study lends credence to the widely adopted recommendation to prioritize patients with cancer for SARS-CoV-2 vaccination,” the authors wrote. “Nevertheless, our results imply that a potential intention to decline a second vaccine by some jurisdictions owing to a shortage of vaccines warrants reevaluation of unique populations, such as patients with cancer, in view of lagging immunogenicity. Until additional prospective data regarding vaccine efficacy in patients with cancer are established, adherence to risk reduction health care strategies is prudent.”