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GLOBAL: People living with cancer should have priority access to Covid-19 vaccines, experts say

THE American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) has made a call that people with cancer should also be considered for priority access to Covid-19 vaccines.

The experts made the call after a review of data on the topic found that people with cancer were twice as likely to die from Covid-19 as those without the disease.

Several research studies over the course of the pandemic have investigated whether people with cancer have worse outcomes when contracting Covid-19.

Based on a review of 28 of these studies, the AACR Covid-19 Cancer Task Force discovered that even when factors such as age, sex, and comorbidities were taken into account, people with cancer were twice as likely to die from Covid-19 as people without cancer.

“It is consistently clear that a cancer diagnosis doubles the overall risk of death from Covid-19 compared to patients with Covid-19 and no cancer,” said President, and chair of the AACR COVID-19 and Cancer Task Force, Antoni Ribas.

“In addition, the cancer treatments that these patients are receiving are lifesaving, and any interference due to Covid-19 exposure, or withholding treatment due to virus risk, can itself worsen outcomes and increase cancer mortality,” Ribas added.

“Patients with blood cancers are at a particularly higher risk. This is because cancer alters blood cells that are important to fight Covid-19, and their treatments further cripple the normal blood cells that are needed to generate immune responses to Covid-19.

“Another subgroup at particular risk are patients with lung cancer, cancer that frequently develops in people who have chronic lung disease.

“Therefore, these patients have two very strong risk factors for poor outcomes with Covid-19,” said Ribas, noting that patients with cancer should consult with their health care providers about potential vaccination.

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