‘Give priority to cancer patients for vaccination’

Panel of doctors says cancer patients were more vulnerable to COVID-19 than others

A panel of doctors, mainly oncologists from across India, have said that cancer patients must be included in the priority list for COVID-19 vaccine.

Speaking at a virtual webinar organised by Apollo Cancer Centres, the panel of doctors, which included Deborah Enting from Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in the U.K., said that taking a vaccine was effective for cancer patients, except for a couple of scenarios where they were undergoing specific type of treatments, particularly in case of haematological malignancies.

Guidelines outlined

Abdul Ghafur, consultant, Infectious Diseases, Apollo Hospitals, highlighted the recommendations made by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network in the U.S. with respect to administering vaccines to cancer patients.

While stressing that his hospital was still pooling data for a detailed analysis, Arvind Krishnamurthy from the Cancer Institute (WIA), Adyar, said preliminary indications showed that cancer patients were more vulnerable to COVID-19, and mortality among them due to the disease was higher than that seen in other patients.

Though most of the doctors on the panel agreed on mortality being higher for cancer patients, some said there was a lack of adequate data, and the mortality did not appear to be significantly higher.

A majority of the doctors recommended the Covishield vaccine for cancer patients by pointing out that Covaxin was still being used under clinical trial mode.

Purvish Parikh from Shalby Cancer Research Institutes moderated the discussion.

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