What Should People with Cancer Know About COVID-19 Virus?

What Should People with Cancer Know About COVID-19 Virus?

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COVID-19 cases and deaths have been rising around the country, but after months of research and testing, the coronavirus vaccine has been found and will soon be available to the public. If you are a cancer patient, you should still take additional precautions to protect yourself from contracting the virus. According to the American Cancer Society, cancer patients and those taking treatment for cancer are at an increased risk of getting a COVID-19 infection.

Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery can weaken a patient’s immune systems, making it harder to fight off infections and other diseases. Please consult with their doctor about effectively managing COVID-19 and cancer.

Here are answers to the questions you may have concerning COVID-19 and its vaccine.

Which People Have an Increased Vulnerability to Critical Diseases if They Get COVID-19?

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), older adults and people with certain medical conditions and poor habits have increased risks of getting health complications from COVID-19. These conditions and factors include:

  • Cancer
  • Smoking
  • Obesity - persons having a Body Mass Index(BMI) that is more than 30
  • Having a weakened immune system after a stem cell transplant, organ transplant, or cancer treatments
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Heart conditions

Can I Get COVID-19 from a Blood Transfusion?

American Red Cross reports that there is no evidence that people can get coronavirus infection through a blood transfusion. Healthy people can still donate blood. However, social distancing due to COVID-19 has decreased blood donations and canceled blood drives, causing dramatic blood shortages in many parts of the country. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still encourages blood donations during this pandemic.

Are There Medicines to Treat (or Prevent) COVID-19?

Remdesivir (Veklury) is the only FDA-approved drug to treat children and adults hospitalized with COVID-19 infection. It stops the virus's production and tends to shorten the recovery time in some patients. This drug can cause some side effects such as sweating, chills, and low blood pressure.

Besides Remdesivir, some other drugs have received emergency use authorization (EUA), including:

  1. Bamlanivimab – This is a monoclonal antibody, i.e., it is a synthetic form of an immune system protein. It is an IV drug, which, once infused, attaches to the virus and prevents it from infecting human cells. The FDA has instructed to use this drug in older children and adults with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 infection with a higher risk of severe illness or hospitalization.
  2. Baricitinib – It is a medicine called a Janus kinase inhibitor, which helps reduce inflammation in the body to contain the coronavirus symptoms. The FDA has issued a EUA to use this drug along with Remdesivir in children and adults hospitalized with COVID-19 who are on a ventilator or need oxygen.
  3. Casirivimab and Imdevimab – This is a monoclonal antibody, and once infused intravenously, these drugs attach to the virus and stop it from infecting human cells. They can be used in older children and adults with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 infection who are at higher risk of severe illness or hospitalization.
  4. Plasma Treatment – People who have completely recovered from the infection and have antibodies against the virus in their plasma (the liquid part of their blood) can donate it to help others.

Is There a Vaccine Against the New Coronavirus?

Yes, there are 3 COVID-19 vaccines, including AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Pfizer. The FDA has issued emergency use authorization for Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. The efficacy and results of these vaccines have been publicly reported through press releases, and we can expect more such reports in the future.

Will COVID-19 Vaccines Provide Long-Term Protection?

The COVID-19 vaccines have become available for use, but it is too early to say how long they can protect us from infection. More research is required to answer this question. However, most people who have recovered from COVID-19 develop an immune response that can safeguard them for some period against reinfection. However, research is still going on concerning how long this protection can last.

At Chesapeake Oncology-Hematology Associates, our medical team is dedicated to providing the best possible cancer treatments. Our treatments include chemotherapy, iron infusions, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy. We ensure the most suitable and advanced treatments and care. Contact us for an appointment with us if you are looking for highly experienced oncologists and hematologists near you.

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COHA is a leading group of oncologists that offer oncology services within Anne Arundel County, Howard County, and Queen Anne’s County, Maryland. We remain committed to bringing the best oncology and hematology services to the residents of this area. Our knowledge, skills, and experience will guide you toward the best treatment options for your health and lifestyle. We offer today’s most effective therapies, expertly and compassionately delivered in our infusion and medical centers.

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