CLL Coverage from Every Angle

How Effective Is the COVID-19 Vaccine for Patients With CLL?

By: Jenna Carter, PhD
Posted: Tuesday, July 6, 2021

It is not yet clear just how effective the COVID-19 vaccine is in immunocompromised patients, especially those with hematologic cancers. Anthony R. Mato, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, and colleagues examined the serologic response of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) after they received the COVID-19 vaccine. Their findings, published in a letter to the editor in the journal Leukemia, revealed that only half of the vaccinated patients developed detectable anti–SARS–CoV-2 S1/S2 antibodies. They also found significant differences between the rates of detectable antibodies in treatment-naive patients and those who received directed treatments.

“These striking findings suggest that vaccination in patients with CLL may not confer the efficacy that we expect in the general population, particularly in patients receiving CLL-directed therapy,” stated Dr. Mato and colleagues. Based on their findings, the authors concluded that these data support the need for further clinical studies of vaccine efficacy in this patient population.

A total of 44 patients with CLL were included in this study. Before the first vaccine dose, baseline demographics, laboratory parameters, and treatment history were collected for all patients. At a median of 21 days following the second dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (BNT162b2 or mRNA-1273), serologic analyses were conducted using a SARS–CoV-2 S1/S2 IgG assay.

Findings revealed that a total of 23 patients tested positive for anti–SARS–CoV-2 S1/S2 antibodies. Furthermore, treatment-naive patients (odds ratio [OR] = 56.7) and those younger than age 70 (OR = 12.0) were found to be more likely to produce antibodies than those who were younger and/or received directed treatment. Regression analyses revealed that the production of antibodies was significantly less common in patients who received Bruton’s tyrosine kinase inhibitors (P = .009) at the time of vaccination or in patients who received an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody (P = .002) within 12 months.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

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