September 18, 2020

What about a vaccine for myeloma patient ?

Will the vaccines work well for myeloma patients?

This is the $64,000 question, as we hear about all the controversy surrounding the development of COVID-19 vaccines. The case of transverse myelitis, a serious autoimmune inflammation of the spinal cord, in the Astra Zeneca vaccine trial in the U.K. is a serious concern. Appropriately, this trial has been temporarily stopped.

There are several concerns for myeloma patients:

  • First, it is essential to study the effects of the vaccine in as many individuals as possible, including in older age groups and those with compromised immunity, to assess the true sustained production of neutralizing (active anti-COVID-19) antibodies. It is anticipated that at least one booster dose will be required to produce the antibody levels needed.
  • As a group, myeloma patients are susceptible to “autoimmune” diseases. In many ways, myeloma itself is an autoimmune process. Thus, there is particular concern about an autoimmune reaction with the COVID-19 vaccine. The trial will need to be expanded to assess this in more detail. This is the normal procedure in vaccine development, which just takes time!

The bottom line 
Myeloma patients will probably NOT be the first best candidates for vaccination until much more information is available.

Convalescent plasma treatment
A new report and commentary by Dr. Eric Topol again emphasize that there is marginal, if any, benefit with convalescent plasma treatment. The path forward with science is never easy. All trials are just that—TRIALS—to figure out if a treatment can help. Most trials do not work out. That is why we can truly celebrate when real breakthroughs occur. In the case of COVID-19, we are still waiting.

To read Dr Durie’s full article, click here.