COVID vaccine efficacy and MDS: In conversation with Dr Austin Kulasekararaj

Watch the video of MDS UK Zoom Cafe on the 19th July 2021

On the 19th of July we had an informative conversation with Dr Austin Kulasekararaj, Consultant Haematologist, King's College Hospital, London, on issues and concerns around COVID-19 "Freedom Day" and the efficacy of the Covid vaccine for MDS patients.
Watch the video and read the excerpts below.

"Patients with their immune system compromised have to be still extremely careful"

"Obviously today is a big day, it's called Freedom Day, but I think for MDS patients - and generally for the community of blood cancers or any other conditions with patients with their immune system compromised - we have to be still extremely careful.

It's great that quite a lot, if not most of the people on this call would have had both the vaccines. They will provide a degree of protection against getting severe COVID.

There is (still) a possibility of getting COVID, but the complications of getting severe infection, hospitalization and complications are going to be significantly reduced.

What we're all debating about is the degree of protection. I think that is the major question."

Dr Austin Kulasekararaj

Dr Austin Kulasekararaj

"We've screened around 40 patients after receiving the 2nd vaccination to see their protective ability.

In a couple of months we'll have some scientific data to see when is the right time to boost the vaccination and how long-lasting the immune response will be."

 

"We are now getting the data to understand how cancer patients' immune system responds to vaccination"

"Thanks to a number of people on this call we've been able to do a test,  the SOAP study, and test for your antibody levels and also other aspects of the immune system two weeks to four weeks after you've received the second jab.

We've screened around 40 patients at a specific time point after receiving the second vaccination to see their protective ability. You would have noticed that I did not use the word antibody, because antibodies are only one aspect of the immune system which is measured to look at the response to vaccination. But there are so many other aspects of the immune system which we are able to measure, including what is called the t-cells, which are another bit of the immune system which will look at the protective response against COVID.

The study is very interesting because that's sort of going to be the real world (question) going forward: you would have had two vaccines, you would have possibly had a booster, what is the chance that you could get severe COVID or get complications due to COVID? That is something which the SOAP study is particularly looking to understand.

In a couple of months things will be a bit clearer, prior to the planned roll out for an autumn booster or early winter booster of the vaccination, so we'll be able to have some data, some scientific data, to guide us, to see when is the right time to boost the vaccination and also to see how long-lasting the immune response will be."

MDS Zoom Café

MDS Zoom Café

"I'd say, if there is a halfway house between totally locking yourself in a room, being totally vigilant and not interacting, versus going all out and without a mask, if there is a halfway house somewhere, that's where we should all as MDS patients fit in."

Learn more about Covid vaccine efficacy and blood cancer

Visit bloodcancer.org.uk and learn what we know so far about covid vaccine effectiveness in people with different types of blood cancer. The page is updated regularly.

https://bloodcancer.org.uk/support-for-you/coronavirus-covid-19/covid-vaccine-blood-cancer/covid-vaccine-efficacy-blood-cancer/

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