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Dr. Diamond on Building a Better COVID-19 Vaccine for the Immunocompromised

In science and medicine, information is constantly changing and may become out-of-date as new data emerge.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.

Don Diamond. Ph.D., has been working for decades at City of Hope, Duarte, CA, constructing a new vaccine platform that will benefit the immunocompromised. It’s already been successfully used in post allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell (bone marrow) transplants to prevent a different viral infection, CMV. CMV or cytomegalovirus is a type of herpes virus that can be very dangerous for post-transplant patients when they are extremely vulnerable with little immunity.

Dr. Diamond and his team are leveraging what they have learned from their CMV vaccine by modifying their vaccine platform to protect against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

While there is no proof yet, there are reasons to be optimistic that this vaccine will work well in the immunocompromised as it seems to be particularly effective in building immunity of not just the B cells that form antibodies but also the T cells that are so critical in durable “cellular” protection.

The safety study in healthy patients has been completed and was reassuring.

The research will soon be expanding to include those with B cell blood cancers, including chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL/SLL). It is not a placebo-controlled trial, so everyone gets the experimental vaccine, either once or twice. Prior vaccinations or Evusheld should not be a reason to be excluded.

We know too well that responses with the approved COVID-19 vaccines in those with CLL/SLL often have been disappointing.

Research such as this to build a better, more protective vaccine is critical. We will post a link to the trial when it opens.

You can listen to my interview with Dr. Diamond below.

Stay strong. We are all in this together.

Brian

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