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11 Mar, 2021 11:29

Cancer patients have little protection against Covid after receiving one dose of Pfizer jab, UK study says

Cancer patients have little protection against Covid after receiving one dose of Pfizer jab, UK study says

More than half of cancer patients who receive one dose of the Pfizer vaccine are left with little protection against Covid. But if a second dose is given three weeks after, their immunity is on par with non-cancer patients.

A preprint study, released by researchers at King’s College Hospital in London on Wednesday, looked at how the Pfizer vaccine reacted in 205 people with various forms of cancer.

The study says that the vaccine responses in cancer patients showed that a gap of twelve weeks between doses of the Pfizer vaccine could leave many of them vulnerable to serious Covid.

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It looked at 151 people with solid cancers such as lung, breast, and bowel, and another 54 with cancers of the blood. Three weeks after receiving one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, 39 percent of people with solid cancers were protected, researchers say. Those with blood cancers had a much lower level of protection – just 13 percent after one dose. That level of protection compares against 97 percent in people who do not have cancers.

The study found that if a second dose of the Pfizer jab was delivered three weeks after the first, there was an increase to 95 percent in their immune response against Covid – almost the same as non-cancer patients who received one dose.

While the vaccine is very impressive in its impact on healthy individuals, “our study shows that it can clearly bring immense benefit to cancer patients too, but in most cases this is only after boosting,” said Professor Adrian Hayday from King’s College London, who added that cancer patients should be vaccinated and boosted quickly.

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“Based on our findings, we would recommend an urgent review of the vaccine strategy for clinically extremely vulnerable groups,” said Dr Sheeba Irshad, a lead author on the study. “Until then, it is important that cancer patients continue to observe all public health measures in place such as social distancing and shielding when attending hospitals, even after vaccination.”

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is one of three approved for use by UK authorities. So far, almost 23 million in the UK have received at least one dose of either the Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca vaccines.

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