The subject of Covid-19 vaccination and boosting is an important one for those with acute myleoid leukemia (AML). A number of papers have been published documenting that those of us with hematological malignancies [not just AML, but also the different lymphoma and leukemia variants] are not receiving the full protection of the Covid vaccines seen in the general population.
A paper just published in the journal Cancer builds on this prior knowledge with a retrospective study of 378 patients with blood/bone marrow cancers tracked over the period since the Covid vaccines have become available.
Before continuing you need to be familiar with the term "seroconversion" - the development of specific antibodies in the blood serum as a result of infection or immunization, including vaccination. During infection or immunization, antigens enter the blood, and the immune system begins to produce antibodies in response. Seroconversion means that you developed Covid antibodies.
Some of the conclusions from this study re-confirm outcomes from other published studies, and some present novel observations and recommendations. The list below presents some key conclusions, but not all discussed in the referenced paper.
You may wonder what this Evusheld is. Evusheld was given an Emergence Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration; at the end of December 2021. This product, developed, manufactured and sold by Astra-Zeneca is a prevention therapy for certain high-risk individuals that can help protect them from COVID-19 before they are exposed to the virus.
Evusheld is the first pre-exposure prophylaxis product for COVID-19 apart from vaccines. Evusheld is a combination of two medications given together: tixagevimab and cilgavimab. Both are monoclonal antibodies, which are lab-made proteins that act like antibodies made by your immune system to fight an infection. Evusheld is administered by two injections immediately given one after another. Based on clinical trial data, Evusheld is administered every six months to offer the most protection.”
Limited supplies of Evusheld were available early in 2022 and the product was parceled out to those patients in highest need. That short supply has been alleviated since April and Evusheld is now readily available in infusion centers. Official guidance on the use of Evusheld states that AML is one of the conditions thought to benefit the most from Covid-19 monoclonal antibody pre-exposure prophylaxis with this drug. If your AML specialist has not yet raised this topic with you than it is suggested you raise it with her or him.
about the author
I am a patient diagnosed in 2014 with primary plasma cell leukemia (pPCL), a rare and aggressive variant of multiple myeloma and have been very fortunate to find successful treatment at the division of Cellular Therapy at the Duke University Cancer Institute. My wife, Vicki, and I have two adult children and two grandsons who are the ‘lights of our lives’. Successful treatment has allowed Vicki and I to do what we love best : traveling the world, albeit it with some extra precautions to keep infections away. My career in the pharmaceutical industry has given me insights that I am currently putting to use as an advocate to lower drug pricing, especially prices for anti-cancer drugs. I am a firm believer that staying mentally active, physically fit, compliant to our treatment regimen and taking an active interest in our disease are keys to successful treatment outcomes.