Ask the Doctor Question:
I would be very interested to see the results of the studies you previously mentioned and have a few follow-up questions:
- Do you know if the people who had 2,500 had COVID previously, or if it has been that high in people who have never had COVID? (The only person I know who had that high had COVID before.)
- I never had COVID and my count a month after the 2 doses of Pfizer vaccine was 746.2, so it is definitely above .80. I know that’s high compared to many others with CLL I know, but it sounds like it might actually be on the lower end since that’s not near 2,500. Is my right?
- Is there any preliminary information on how quickly those numbers go down after vaccination in CLL patients (or average person)? I’m wondering if I should switch some autumn doctor appointments to this summer if my immunity will likely be much lower then or if chances are, I’ll have similar coverage then as I do now.
- You mentioned precautions. I know it’s rare to catch COVID outdoors. I have been taking strict precautions since 2020, but is it safe for me to now talk with people (vaccinated adults, unvaccinated adults, or unvaccinated kids) outdoors at three feet or so, masked or even unmasked? (I try to maintain six feet, but other people simply don’t respect that anymore.) In other words, does vaccine status, masking, and proximity matter if outside?
Answer: We will try to provide a brief response to each of your follow-up questions:
- The Spike protein test results do not indicate previous infection with COVID whatsoever. The Spike protein only detects the antibody that is produced as a result of the vaccine. There is a different test called the nucleocapsid antibody test which detects the presence of different proteins that will be present as a result of a previous natural infection. These are two very different tests.
- Your level of 746.2 is good comparatively to many other anecdotal reports we have heard where patients with CLL have levels of 0-10. Please remember, there is no correlation or data, yet which would allow anyone to ascertain that higher levels equate to a better level of protection. It could very well be an all-or-nothing type of scenario. As in, you either have antibodies and are protected, or you don’t. We just don’t know yet.
- No published information. The vaccine companies are closely monitoring levels in those who enrolled in their clinical trials and have had the vaccine since last summer. So far, the data is looking good for antibodies lasting a long while. However, remember none of the initial clinical trials for the COVID vaccine included blood cancer patients.
- With the Delta variant being easier to spread, easier to catch, and more deadly, we are encouraging all CLL patients to be extremely careful again regardless of the circumstances, especially because everyone else is now unmasking. Wear a tightly fitted mask (preferably an N-95 if you have one) and keep you’re a six feet distance even outside. Avoid crowded situations and meeting with unvaccinated individuals (including children). We know this is not what everyone wants to hear, and we are all tired of COVID, but we are still in the midst of this, unfortunately.