Study probes how immunotherapy affects COVID-19 outcomes

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR: A new study performed by a University of Cincinnati US researcher sheds more light on the relationship between COVID-19 severity and immunotherapy treatment for cancer patients.

Trisha Wise-Draper, MD, PhD, of the University of Cincinnati, is a co-corresponding author of the study that was released in JAMA Oncology.

Prior to this study, there have been conflicting findings on how immunotherapy for cancer treatment affects COVID-19 outcomes, according to Wise-Draper. It was believed that immunotherapy would predispose cancer patients to worse COVID-19 disease since immunotherapy treatments impair and immunosuppress patients’ immune systems.

“This research was focused on understanding the effects of immunotherapy and immunosuppression on cancer patients with COVID-19 and COVID-19 outcomes,” said Wise-Draper, associate professor, section head for Medical Oncology in UC’s College of Medicine.

The COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium registry, a multi-institution registry of individuals with COVID-19 and a current or past invasive cancer diagnosis, provided the researchers with data on 12, 046 patients. The COVID-19 and cancer patient cohort with the most data available at this time was this one, Medical Daily reported.

“We reviewed patients with cancer, those that had baseline immunosuppression and those that were treated with immunotherapy prior to getting COVID-19,” Wise-Draper said.

In addition to death rates, Wise-Draper stated that the research team evaluated the severity of COVID-19 disease using metrics such as whether patients needed oxygen, were admitted to the hospital, or required intensive care unit therapy.

“The most important finding is that although those treated with immunotherapy alone did not have an effect on COVID-19 disease outcomes, those that had baseline immunosuppression and were treated with immunotherapy had worse outcomes with COVID-19,” Wise-Draper said.

Patients who had nonimmunotherapy therapies, such as chemotherapy, had COVID-19 outcomes that were poorer than those who received immunotherapy, albeit to a smaller extent. These patients had baseline immunosuppression. It was discovered that those who had received COVID-19 immunizations had less severe COVID-19. (APP)