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CLL and COVID-19: Clinical and Immunologic Responses Under Study in Sweden

By: Kayci Reyer
Posted: Friday, November 5, 2021

Results from a study presented in the journal Leukemia indicated that patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) who are diagnosed with COVID-19 may be more likely to be admitted regardless of age or disease stage. However, patients who recover from COVID-19 may experience a robust and enduring B- and/or T-cell immune response against the virus.

“Due to the combined effect of disease- and treatment-related immunodeficiency, patients with hematological malignancies may be at high risk for developing severe disease if infected by SARS–CoV-2,” noted Anders Österborg, MD, PhD, of the Karolinska University Hospital Solna, Stockholm, and colleagues. “Collectively, our immune results indicate that robust and durable B- and/or T-cell immunity may occur in most CLL patients following COVID-19 infection.”

Between March 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, the study enrolled 60 consecutive patients who had previously been diagnosed with COVID-19CLL therapy was complete in 12 patients and ongoing in 10, whereas 38 patients had indolent disease. A total of 46 patients (77%) were hospitalized for severe COVID-19; of them, 11 were admitted to the ICU, and 14 patients died. Severe COVID-19 occurred consistently across subgroups, with an age of 75 or older tended to be the sole meaningful risk factor for COVID-19 mortality.

The mortality and ICU admission rates dropped significantly between months 1 and 6 (32% and 37%, respectively) versus between months 7 and 13 (18% and 15%, respectively) of the study. The hospitalization rate slightly declined between these periods (86% vs. 71%), remaining frequent overall. A total of 33 patients experienced seroconversion; among them, detectable anti-SARS–CoV-2 antibodies were present for 17 of 22 patients at 6 months and 8 of 11 patients at 12 months. Neutralizing antibodies were present in 13 of 17 patients, and antibodies were found in the saliva of 19 of 28 patients. Overall, 14 of 17 patients developed T cells specific to SARS–CoV-2.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit nature.com.



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