COVID-19 Vaccinations and patients with cancer – An ESMO Call to action
Today, the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) has launched a Call to Action COVID-19 Vaccinations and patients with cancer: Vaccinate. Monitor. Educate.
The document calls for the European Union (EU) Member States’ COVID-19 vaccination strategies to consider prioritising cancer patients in line with the WHO principles aiming to reduce deaths and disease burden. ESMO encourages the countries to collect data in order to monitor the effects of the vaccines in the vulnerable population and take the lead in education and instilling confidence amongst public and patients with cancer.
The World Bladder Cancer Patient Coalition (WBCPC) has endorsed the ESMO Call to Action alongside a number of European and International patient and professional organisations in the field of oncology. The WBCPC notes that some data suggests that certain patients with cancer maybe at higher risk of developing a severe form of COVID-19 and death, however it does not equally impact all people with cancer. For more information and relevant data visit the European Society for Medical Oncology website.
COVID-19 and cancer patients
With over 87 million cases and 1.9 million deaths, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives in more ways than one. For the vulnerable, including patients with cancer, the effects have been even more severe. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has recently updated its GLOBOCAN database to increase the number of new cancer cases for 2020 to 19.3 million, of which 4.4 million are in Europe. The after-effects of the pandemic may lead to delayed and accumulated diagnoses of new cancer cases, as well as occurrence of preventable cases, impacting on mortality in the coming years.
The approval of strong vaccine candidates by robust regulatory agencies provides us with hope, indicating the end of this challenging period. But given the limited quantities of the vaccine, ensuring an equitable and fair distribution within a country and globally, will be our next challenge.
COVID-19 vaccines and cancer patients
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization has published a framework to help guide Member States on the fair and equitable distribution of the scarce resource, i.e. vaccine.
In the context of the European Union Member States developing their vaccination strategies, the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), requests the Member States to consider the following:
Vaccinate all cancer patients in line with the WHO principles aiming to reduce deaths and disease burden. Patients with active disease or receiving anticancer treatment deserve an additional priority in case of limitations only.
Diligently collect data via suitable registries, in order to monitor the effects of the vaccines in the vulnerable population, including patients with cancer and immune response monitoring;
Educate and instil confidence among the public and patients in receiving the vaccines and provide them with up-to-date information in lay language.
More information about the Call to Action can be found on the dedicated ESMO website page.Download the Call to Action