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Rambam Research Shows Oncology Patients Not High Risk For COVID-19 Symptoms and Complications

Publication Date: 9/3/2020 10:00 AM

Researchers at Rambam Health Care Campus and the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology Rappaport Faculty of Medicine have discovered that oncology patients are not at a higher risk of suffering from symptoms or complications of COVID-19 than others who have been exposed to the virus.

Photography: Rambam HCCPhotography: Rambam HCC

In a first-of-its-kind research study, physician researchers from Rambam’s Joseph Fishman Oncology Center, Virology Laboratory, and Epidemiology Unit and the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology’s Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, compared serological data from oncology patients undergoing chemotherapy and immune treatments, and healthy but asymptomatic medical personnel who were exposed to COVID-19, in an attempt to ascertain whether these patients were at a higher risk of suffering from symptoms or complications of the coronavirus than others.

The study focused on a group of 164 cancer patients treated in March 2020 and 107 exposed hospital workers, and found that these patients were at the same risk levels for symptoms and complications as the exposed medical personnel. One possible explanation is that oncology patients receive medications that affect their immune systems. “Our results indicate similar infection rate in both cohorts of about 2% asymptomatic cases in a longitudinal prospective study throughout a two-month period with three points of serologic assessment,” the researchers explain.

The research team included Dr. Tal Goshen-Lago, Head of Translational Research, Division of Oncology (Rambam); Dr. Moran Szwarcwort-Cohen, Director, Virology Laboratory (Rambam); Dr. Ronit Almog, Director, Epidemiology Unit (Rambam); Dr. Ilit Turgeman, Division of Oncology (Rambam); Nelly Zaltzman, Virology Laboratory (Rambam); Dr. Michael Halberthal, Rambam’s General Director; Professor Irit Ben-Aharon, Director of the Division of Oncology (Rambam); Madeleine Benguigui (Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion); and Professor Yuval Shaked (Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion).

Research results were published in a Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute journal under the title, “The Potential Role of Immune Alteration in the Cancer–COVID19 Equation – A Prospective Longitudinal Study.” The article can be found here.

Additional information can be found in this article from Israel365.