All cancer patients or those with a history of cancer should be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine trials and other clinical trials, unless there is credible risk of harm from participation, the American Society of Clinical Oncology said June 23.
Thus far, clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines have mostly excluded cancer patients, leaving many patients — particularly those who are immunocompromised — unsure if the vaccines will be safe or effective for them, according to ASCO’s joint statement with Friends of Cancer Research.
“We’ve learned that patients with cancer are especially vulnerable to severe illness, hospitalization, or death due to COVID-19,” said Everett Vokes, MD, ASCO president. “It is critically important to study adequate numbers of patients who have cancer or a history of cancer so that we can better understand the degree to which patients with cancer, various kinds of immunocompromise, or both respond to vaccines.”
Currently, ASCO and other medical organizations recommend patients across the cancer continuum the COVID-19 vaccine and others, unless there is specific evidence of a risk to their safety.
“This recommendation is currently based, however, on consensus expert opinion in the absence of clinical evidence,” the statement said. “Until studies provide more specific insights about populations with cancer, patients with cancer who are vaccinated are encouraged to continue to follow all guidance on masking and physical distancing to reduce any potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2.”
In the statement, the organizations call on vaccine manufacturers and trial sponsors to partner with oncology practices, cancer centers, and academic medical centers to prioritize the recruitment of cancer patients from diverse populations.
To view the full statement, click here.