What We’re Reading: COVID-19 Vaccine in Cancer Patients; Alcohol Use Among Women; Expiring J&J Vaccine Doses

AJMC Staff

A study out of Israel shows Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective in patients with cancer; women with alcohol disorders face adverse health consequences sooner; hundreds of thousands of doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine may expire in June.

Israeli Study Shows 90% Effectiveness of Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine in Patients With Cancer

Among 102 patients with cancer being monitored at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, Israel, 9 of 10 developed high antibody levels following their second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, reports JAMA Oncology. The study is ongoing, and the patients with various cancers are being continuously monitored for changes in their antibody levels. Despite overall lower levels of antibodies seen in the study cohort and fewer developing antibodies overall vs healthy controls, the investigators remain hopeful. “The levels are still 20 times above the point that makes you considered positive for antibodies,” stated Salomon M. Stemmer, MD, director of oncology research at Beilinson.

Women Suffering After Closing Gender Gap in Alcohol Consumption

Women are now drinking more, often as much as men—having closed the gender gap in risky drinking habits from a 3:1 ratio to almost 1:1—reports Kaiser Health News. The adverse health consequences of their greater consumption are showing up sooner, too, and include liver and heart disease, as well as cancer. Women are also more likely to suffer brain damage and develop depression faster compared with men. Still, they are less likely to get help, which worries experts who express concern that the COVID-19 pandemic will exacerbate these drinking patterns.

J&J COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Face Expiration

As vaccination rates have dropped significantly in recent weeks, concern has grown among state public health officials that hundreds of thousands of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) 1-shot COVID-19 vaccine may go to waste, according to The New York Times. In total, more than 10 million J&J doses sit unused in the states that have received them. Andy Slavitt, the White House’s senior advisor for COVID-19 response, is recommending that governors collaborate with the FDA to come up with optimal storage procedures for the doses, which require normal refrigeration but can only be stored in this manner for 3 months—unlike the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that has a 6-month shelf life.