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Managing CLL During the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Italian Report

By: Sarah Campen, PharmD
Posted: Friday, August 20, 2021

According to an analysis of Italian patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the incidence of COVID-19 infection over a 12-month period—3.3%—was similar to that of the overall population of Italy. Robin Foà, MD, of Sapienza University, Rome, and colleagues described the significance of the pandemic on patients with CLL in a letter to the editor published in Hematological Oncology. “Remarkably, 55% of centers did not report a significant impact of the pandemic on treatment choices, a finding that reflects an efficient organization effort allowing a safe access of patients to the outpatient department,” the authors explained.

During the year of the pandemic, 47 Italian hematology centers reported 494 cases of COVID-19 infection among 15,039 cases of CLL. Around two-thirds of COVID-19 infections in patients with CLL (64.6%) were reported during phase 3 (October 2020 to January 2021) followed by 29.7% in phase 1 (February to May 2020). The age of patients and the type of CLL treatment did not change significantly in the different phases of the pandemic, the authors noted, and the 25% mortality rate from COVID-19 infection also remained similar throughout the 12-month period.

Chemoimmunotherapy and PI3K kinase inhibitors were withheld at the time of COVID-19 infection; Bruton’s tyrosine kinase inhibitors and venetoclax were withheld in 53.6% and 66.6% of patients, respectively. The authors noted that the heterogeneous reports by study providers regarding how to treat patients with CLL during the pandemic reflect the lack of prospective studies. As for vaccination efforts, most centers reported that they planned to advise vaccination—with no pause in treatment—to patients receiving targeted agents.

Disclosure: Conflict of interest information was not provided.



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