News in brief: Third COVID-19 vaccine dose protects lymphoma patients; ISTH confirms face-to-face component of annual Congress; Prescription costs eased with PBS Safety Net changes

Third COVID-19 vaccine dose protects lymphoma patients

A third dose of COVID-19 vaccination improved the immune response in patients with lymphoma, a study funded by the Blood Cancer UK Vaccine Research Collaborative has shown.

Dr Sean Lim, Associate Professor and Honorary Consultant in Haematological Oncology at the University of Southampton, carried out a prospective, observational study including 457 patients with lymphoma who had received two or three COVID-19 vaccine doses.

The findings, published in Nature Cancer, showed undetectable humoral responses following two vaccine doses in 52% of patients undergoing active anticancer treatment, while 60% of those on anti-CD20 therapy had undetectable antibodies when fully vaccinated within 12 months of receiving anticancer therapy.

However, the data showed that 70% of individuals with indolent B-cell lymphoma exhibited improved antibody responses after having received a booster vaccination, the researchers noted.

Also of note, “63% of all patients displayed antigen-specific T-cell responses, which increased after a third dose irrespective of their cancer treatment status,” the authors said.

The researchers concluded that their results “emphasise the urgency of careful monitoring of COVID-19-specific immune responses to guide vaccination schemes in these vulnerable populations”.

ISTH confirms face-to-face component of annual Congress

The International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH) has confirmed that it is bringing back a face-to-face component for its 2022 Congress in London this July.

While an online platform will feature all aspects of the Congress for remote access, this year’s event will also allow live attendance for the first time since 2019.

“While we were very successful in facilitating virtual education and scientific exchange during the pandemic, we are looking forward to incorporating in-person interactions again as they provide an [additional] level of engagement that we have all come to value as an important part of accelerating research,” said Professor Beverley Hunt, Consultant Haematologist and Chair of the ISTH 2022 Local Organising Committee (LOC).

More than 8,000 clinicians, researchers and educators working in the field of thrombosis and haemostasis are expected to participate in the five-day program.

Prescription costs eased with PBS Safety Net changes

Patients with chronic diseases will have the financial burden for medication costs eased by an announcement of the lowering of PBS safety net thresholds in the 2022 Budget.

From July 1 the threshold for access for general patients will be lowered by the equivalent of two scripts, from $1,542.10 to $1,457.10, a saving of up to $85. This means that after the equivalent of about 34 full-priced general co-payments, general patients pay only the concessional co-payment of $6.80 per PBS script for the balance of the year.

For concession card holders, the threshold will be reduced by the equivalent of 12 scripts from $326.40 to $244.80, a saving of up to $81.60. When concession card holders reach the safety net threshold, after 36 full-priced concessional scripts, they will receive PBS medicines at no charge for the balance of the year.

The measure is costing $525.3 million over four years from 2022–23.

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