Efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in patients with B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma

C. Perry, E. Luttwak, R. Balaban, G. Shefer, M. M. Morales, A. Aharon, Y. Tabib, Y. C. Cohen, N. Benyamini, O. Beyar-Katz, M. Neaman, R. Vitkon, N. Keren-Khadmy, M. Levin, Y. Herishanu, I. Avivi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Patients diagnosed with B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (B-NHL), particularly if recently treated with anti-CD20 antibodies, are at risk of severe COVID-19 disease. Because studies evaluating humoral response to COVID-19 vaccine in these patients are lacking, recommendations regarding vaccination strategy remain unclear. The humoral immune response to BNT162b2 messenger RNA (mRNA) COVID-19 vaccine was evaluated in patients with B-NHL who received 2 vaccine doses 21 days apart and compared with the response in healthy controls. Antibody titer, measured by the Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2S assay, was evaluated 2 to 3 weeks after the second vaccine dose. Patients with B-NHL (n 5 149), aggressive B-NHL (a-B-NHL; 47%), or indolent B-NHL (i-B-NHL; 53%) were evaluated. Twenty-eight (19%) were treatment naïve, 37% were actively treated with a rituximab/ obinutuzumab (R/Obi) based induction regimen or R/Obi maintenance, and 44% had last been treated with R/Obi .6 months before vaccination. A seropositive response was achieved in 89%, 7.3%, and 66.7%, respectively, with response rates of 49% in patients with B-NHL vs 98.5% in 65 healthy controls (P , .001). Multivariate analysis revealed that longer time since exposure to R/Obi and absolute lymphocyte count $0.9 3 103/mL predicted a positive serological response. Median time to achieve positive serology among anti-CD20 antibody-Treated patients was longer in i-B-NHL vs a-B-NHL. The humoral response to BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is impaired in patients with B-NHL who are undergoing R/Obi treatment. Longer time since exposure to R/Obi is associated with improved response rates to the COVID-19 vaccine. This study is registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT04746092.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3053-3061
Number of pages9
JournalBlood advances
Issue number16
StatePublished - 24 Aug 2021


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