Unvaccinated cancer patients have 1.7 times higher risk of getting COVID-19 and 1.6 times higher risk of death

On Thursday, researchers published their findings on the effects of vaccines on veterans who were also cancer patients. The results were published in JAMA Oncology and concluded that vaccinated cancer patients had lower chances of getting infected with COVID-19 or dying as a result of the infection.

The researchers from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) matched almost 30,000 vaccinated U.S. veterans who were receiving care from the VA to 30,000 veterans who were not vaccinated. Each pair that was matched was similar to the other in factors such as age, race and location of residence.

Both the members of each pair also received follow up checks at the same time from these researchers. The follow up time was about 47 days after they had agreed to be a part of the research group.

The researchers reported that 275 unvaccinated veterans had been infected with COVID-19 between the study enrollment and the check-up while 161 of the vaccinated veterans were infected with the virus in the same time period. This is a 70 percent difference.

The researchers also reported that 27 veterans in the unvaccinated group had died after being infected with COVID-19 between the study enrollment and the check-up while 17 veterans in the vaccinated group succumbed to a COVID infection in the same period. This is an almost 60 percent difference in mortality rate.

The researchers also noted that vaccine effectiveness might decrease with factors such as “age, and malignancy and anti-cancer treatments may be immunosuppresive.”

They also said that these were the factors that might account for “reduced effectiveness” of vaccines that are observed among some patients who have cancer. The effectiveness of the vaccines was much higher among the general population and was estimated to be 89 percent to 92 percent.

The researchers at VA have reported that although cancer patients might not get as much efficacy from vaccines as the general public, those of whom are vaccinated have lesser chances of getting infected with COVID-19 or dying from the infection. However, it must be noted that the research was conducted before the delta variant surge took place across the nation and much before the Omicron variant started spreading across the world.

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