By Patrick Hwu, M.D. - January 29, 2021
To get the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, we need the vaccine — one of the safest and most effective vaccines ever created. We know the COVID-19 vaccine is generally safe for cancer patients, but there is still one question we must answer: Will it work?
We need to understand if the COVID-19 vaccine will be effective in cancer patients undergoing treatment, and if it’s not, we need to identify solutions. Will some patients need a third or fourth dose? Do we need to wait longer after the end of treatment or transplant to administer the vaccine?
These are all important questions, and Moffitt Cancer Center is leading the way in this research. We are one of the first institutions studying the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine in cancer patients. This was possible because of the amazing collaboration between our researchers and clinicians. Together, they were able to quickly develop and implement a research study to evaluate the immune response of our patients to the Moderna vaccine, especially those with hematological malignancies.
With the help of Total Cancer Care, a study designed to identify and address patients’ needs throughout their lifetime with the goal of better personalizing cancer care, Moffitt has enrolled 600 patients who will have their blood drawn prior to receiving the first and second vaccine doses, as well as 28 days after the second dose. The patients will complete a questionnaire about any symptoms they have from the vaccine, and our labs will conduct long-term follow-up to determine antibody response at six, 12 and 24 months.
It was inspiring to see our patients who have volunteered for the trial getting their first round of protection from COVID-19 and at the same time donating their blood so we can answer these very important questions. Because of them, we will gain invaluable insight to help effectively immunize our vulnerable patients to COVID-19.
I’m so proud to see the work Moffitt is spearheading to better benefit cancer patients around the world. This is a huge first step toward protecting one of our most vulnerable populations and overcoming this global pandemic.