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A retrospective analysis of patients with classic Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) treated with PD-1 inhibitors will be presented at the 2021 ASH Annual Meeting & Exposition. This study, published in Blood, sought to determine the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine for these patients. Specifically, with regard to safety, the study looked at the frequency of vaccine-related adverse events (AEs) and immune-related reactions (IRRs) to PD-1 inhibitors after vaccination.  

Using data from the University of Pennsylvania from the beginning of July 2020 through the end of June 2021, the researchers were able to identify 27 patients who met the criteria of the analysis. Of the 27 patients, 26% had a prior history of COVID-19 infection, and 85% received the COVID-19 vaccine, either Pfizer or Moderna.

The study also looked into the vaccine’s efficacy for these patients based on their post-vaccine COVID-19 infection rates and testing for receptor-binding domain (RBG) IgG antibody levels to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. 

Ultimately, regarding the safety data, the researchers found that there were no severe AEs related to the vaccination process, and all patients completed the vaccination series. While 12 patients did experience vaccine-related AEs such as injection site pain, fatigue, fever, and transient generalized lymphadenopathy, no new IRRs occurred in patients when they received their PD-1 inhibitor treatment after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Regarding the efficacy data, there were no post-vaccine COVID-19 infections, and of the RBG IgG antibody level data available, 92% of patients had positive antibody titers. 

The researchers concluded that the safety and efficacy data of the COVID-19 vaccines for this population are encouraging. Further study will include a prospective analysis using patient-reported outcomes and long-term safety and efficacy follow-up [1].

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[1] Svoboda, J., Ballard, H. J., Ho, C. I., Hughes, M. E., Chong, E. A., Duca, A., Prischak, S., Dwivedy Nasta, S., Ruella, M., Landsburg, D. J., Barta, S. K., Gerson, J. N., & Schuster, S. J. (2021). Safety and efficacy of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines in Hodgkin lymphoma patients receiving PD-1 inhibitors. Blood, 138(Supplement 1), 2445. https://doi.org/10.1182/blood-2021-153122