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COVID-19 Protection for CLL Patients is Possible, But it May Not Be Available

In science and medicine, information is constantly changing and may become out-of-date as new data emerge. All articles and interviews are informational only, should never be considered medical advice, and should never be acted on without review with your health care team.

CLL Society is sharing a series of articles addressing the issue of CLL patients being vaccinated, but still unprotected, and sometimes unaware of their continued risk.

A young ER doctor, Dr. Lindsay Ryan, shared her heartfelt situation in Vaccinated but Not Protected—Living Immunocompromised During the Pandemic.

I reviewed the important subject of passive (monoclonal antibodies) versus active immunity (vaccines) here.

There is a rich collection of COVID-19 and CLL articles and videos in both our COVID-19 pages and in our Opinion Section from Drs. Byrd, Skarbnik, and Kay.

Now we are sharing the strong advocacy voice of my friend and fellow CLL patient, physician, and advocate, Dr. Adrian Warnock on the need to move more quickly in providing to blood cancer patients the increasingly evident lifesaving benefits offered by the use of neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) directed against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

These mAbs may be helpful in several settings including pre-exposure prophylaxis, such as is being studied in the now fully accrued PROVENT trial, in which both Dr. Warnock and I are enrolled in.

Some studies also have shown benefits post-exposure and early in the disease.

Dr. Warnock argues for the use of these mAbs in the case of those already sick with COVID-19 who are unlikely to mount a strong immune defense (such as CLL patients) in his article, “It is NOW Time to Give Monoclonal Antibodies to ALL Blood Cancer Patients Who Don’t Respond to Vaccines.”

The data he shares prove a significant survival advantage for those randomized to receive the antibody treatment.

The urgency to see these lifesaving therapies authorized seems to be lost on the government agencies, such as NICE and the FDA, who are rightly celebrating the success of their vaccine efforts for the immune-competent but are not aggressively addressing the needs of ∼3% of the population who are immunocompromised.

Please look at Dr. Warnock’s well-argued and well-referenced article.

Stay strong. We are all in this together.

Brian Koffman MDCM (retired) MS Ed
Co-Founder, Executive VP and Chief Medical Officer
CLL Society, Inc.