What Lymphoma Patients Need to Know About the Approved Preventative COVID-19 Antibody
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On December 8, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for AstraZeneca’s Evusheld, a monoclonal antibody combination of tixagevimab and cilgavimab. When taken as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (preventive), data shows that Evusheld reduces the risk of developing COVID-19 by 77 percent in certain adults and pediatric individuals (12 years of age and older). Evusheld is only authorized for those individuals who are not currently infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and who have not recently been exposed to an individual infected with SARS-CoV-2. The authorization also requires that individuals either have:
- moderate to severely compromised immune systems due to a medical condition or due to taking immunosuppressive medications or treatments and may not mount an adequate immune response to COVID-19 vaccination
- a history of severe adverse reactions to a COVID-19 vaccine and/or component(s) of those vaccines, therefore vaccination with an available COVID-19 vaccine, according to the approved or authorized schedule, is not recommended.
One dose of Evusheld, administered as two separate consecutive intramuscular injections (one injection per monoclonal antibody, given in immediate succession), may be effective for pre-exposure prevention for six months. Evusheld is not authorized for individuals for the treatment of COVID-19 or for post-exposure prevention of COVID-19 and is not considered a substitute for vaccination in individuals for whom COVID-19 vaccination is recommended.
Patients should also speak with their provider if this antibody is an option for them, and the current limited availability of Evusheld.
Lymphoma Patient and COVID-19 Vaccines
It is important to note that being fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine does not necessarily mean that individuals are therefore fully protected. The CDC recently updated their COVID-19 Vaccine Guidelines because data suggest that immune responses to COVID-19 vaccination might be reduced in some immunocompromised individuals. According to the CDC, this includes, but is not limited to, people receiving chemotherapy for cancer, people with blood cancers such as leukemia or lymphoma, people receiving stem cell or organ transplants, people receiving hemodialysis, and people using certain medications that might blunt the immune response to vaccination. We suggest that you consider consulting your oncologist or primary care provider about your COVID-19 vaccine immune response and your own diagnosis.
Furthermore, certain lymphoma therapies, particularly rituximab (Rituxan) and obinutuzumab (Gazyva), may diminish the immune response to vaccines due to their effects on normal B cells. This observation has been noted in some patients with other vaccines. It is possible that chemotherapy and other treatments, including targeted therapies, may also affect immune responses to vaccines.
The Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF) encourages patients, survivors, and their caregivers to take information and questions back to their individual health care providers as a way of creating a dialogue and partnership about their lymphoma and treatment.
The LRF Helpline is available to help patients and their loved ones better understand their lymphoma diagnosis so that they can feel empowered to make the most informed decisions about their treatment and long-term care. The Helpline can also connect patients to financial assistance resources, legal, and insurance help.
Feel free to contact the LRF Helpline with any of your lymphoma-related questions, Monday through Friday from 9:30am – 7:30pm Eastern Standard Time (ET). Call (800) 500-9976 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.