The PREPARE study

The PREPARE study secured funding from the Blood Cancer UK Research Collaborative in May 2021 and aims to understand the impact of COVID-19 on blood cancer patients.

Led by Myeloma UK Board member, Dr Karthik Ramasamy, PREPARE is looking at the risk of COVID-19, the effects of shielding, and the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. The first wave of the study is focused on myeloma patients.

It uses an existing online research platform called RUDY to collect data from online questionnaires and request samples (for example, blood or urine).

Register for RUDY now to join the study.

Recorded May 2021.

Sarah McDonald Director of Research

“The PREPARE study is hugely important to the myeloma community. It is collecting and linking both patient experience and health data. It will answer questions around vaccine efficacy and timing as well as helping us understand how the pandemic has impacted patient well-being and healthcare resources. This valuable data will help us identify areas where we need to push for change to deliver the best possible care for patients.“

Sarah McDonald, Director of Research at Myeloma UK

May 2021: First PREPARE results released

Data from the first 109 myeloma patients who completed COVID-19 questionnaires and provided blood samples have been released. This included data on vaccine effectiveness from 28 patients who had provided blood samples more than three weeks after the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccine.

The data shows that although the level of COVID-19 infection was low (4%), the pandemic and shielding had a considerable impact on myeloma patients. 98% of patients completely or partially shielded during the pandemic with 21% of patients feeling at risk of social isolation. 18% of patients had their anti-myeloma treatment changed due to the pandemic.

The results also indicated that COVID-19 vaccines were effective in myeloma patients with 60% (17/28) of patients having an antibody response to the first dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

This early data further supports findings from the Myeloma UK Patient and Carer COVID-19 Surveys and the COVID-19 vaccine study at the Royal Marsden.

October 2021: Second PREPARE results released

The results from the second release of the PREPARE study reveal that 93% of myeloma patients had an antibody response after receiving two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. This indicates that at least two doses are needed to give myeloma patients protection against COVID-19.

The data shows that antibodies against the COVID-19 spike protein, found on the virus’ surface, were detected in 93% of the 214 patients after their second dose of the vaccine. This is markedly increased from the earlier phase of testing for antibodies present in the blood at least 21 days after one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Samples from 167 patients were also tested for the presence of activated T cells, an immune cell found in the blood. 61% of patients were found to have a positive T cell response to two COVID-19 vaccines.

The results also suggest that the length of time between vaccine doses does not impact the immune response. The presence of antibodies in the blood was not affected by the length of time between the two vaccine doses. Patients had anything from a two-week and 12-week gap between vaccines.

More research is needed to understand those patients who did not have an antibody response after two doses and how long the antibody response will last in those who responded to two vaccines. Further investigation on how quickly the immune system of vaccinated patients responds to COVID-19 infections will shed some light on the protective ability of COVID-19 vaccines for myeloma patients.

It is clear from the results that another dose of the COVID-19 vaccine had a much higher number of patients eliciting an antibody response. Therefore, it’s crucial patients continue to get vaccinated as COVID-19 vaccines continue to be rolled out.

The PREPARE study will scrutinise the data and undertake more research to learn more about the antibody response of myeloma patients, including after further vaccine doses.

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