CLL Advocates Newsletter Issue 12

Dear Friends of CLLANZ

Covid-19 and CLL prevention and treatment – an update.

There is still a lot not known about this disease, but knowledge of it increases daily, and we will know a lot more about what to do to control the disease in coming months.

People who have CLL, and other leukaemias and blood cancers, are much more susceptible to the disease, have more severe disease, are more likely to be hospitalised when they get it, and are more likely to succumb to it than people with normal immune function.

Get vaccinated, if you have CLL.

Vaccination is safer than not being vaccinated – it reduces the severity of the disease, and the mortality rate, even though the vaccination response is reduced (it seems variably and complexly so) in people with CLL.
Herd immunity, nationally and globally, mainly because of vaccination, remains the mainstay of keeping people with CLL safe.

Preventative measures, such as avoiding crowds, social distancing, wearing protective gear such as masks, and washing hands, all remain important measures in preventing disease transmission.

And if you do get it, there seem to be increasingly recognised therapeutic options that can help you. For example, dexamethasone and budesonide save lives, and ibrutinib may reduce the disease severity.

Conversely, some treatments cause immunosuppression, and so increased vulnerability to the disease.

At the moment, in NZ, we have very low rates of the disease, and minimal community transmission, so we’re in a good place to be for staying safe.

This might change if the delta variant becomes established here though – it is more infectious, more likely to need to be treated in hospital, and maybe more resistant to vaccination, especially in the context where a person has only had one dose.

So I hope you all stay well during the pandemic out there in CLL land.

Best wishes

Neil Graham