To obtain a deeper understanding of poor responses to COVID-19 vaccination in patients with lymphoma, we assessed blocking antibodies, total anti-spike IgG, and spike-specific memory B cells in the peripheral blood of 126 patients with lymphoma and 20 age-matched healthy controls 1 and 4 months after COVID-19 vaccination. Fifty-five percent of patients developed blocking antibodies postvaccination, compared with 100% of controls. When evaluating patients last treated from days to nearly 18 years prior to vaccination, time since last anti-CD20 was a significant independent predictor of vaccine response. None of 31 patients who had received anti-CD20 treatment within 6 months prior to vaccination developed blocking antibodies. In contrast, patients who initiated anti-CD20 treatment shortly after achieving a vaccine-induced antibody response tended to retain that response during treatment, suggesting a policy of immunizing prior to treatment whenever possible.

Significance:

In a large cohort of patients with B-cell lymphoma, time since anti-CD20 treatment was an independent predictor of neutralizing antibody response to COVID-19 vaccination. Comparing patients who received anti-CD20 treatment before or after vaccination, we demonstrate that vaccinating first can generate an antibody response that endures through anti-CD20–containing treatment.

This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 85

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