The following article features coverage from the American Society of Hematology 2021 meeting. Click here to read more of Hematology Advisor‘s conference coverage.

The COVID-19 mRNA vaccines induce serological responses, and appear to be safe, in patients with transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia, according to research presented at the 2021 American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting. Antibody titers were, however, lower in patients with thalassemia than among volunteers without thalassemia.

Vaccination against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has drastically reduced the risk of serious disease among infected patients. Many countries have, consequently, prioritized healthcare workers and vulnerable individuals for vaccines.

The clinical trials necessary for approving COVID-19 vaccines did not, however, include vulnerable patients. For this single-center study in Italy, researchers evaluated the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccination among patients with transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia, and compared these findings with outcomes among a group of healthy volunteers.

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Overall, 67 patients with beta-thalassemia and 61 healthy volunteers were included in this study. In the patient and volunteer groups, the median ages were 43 and 39 years, respectively, and 26% and 35% of patients were male sex. All patients and healthy volunteers received the BioNTech-Pfizer mRNA vaccine.

Analysis showed that all healthy volunteers had a response to the vaccine, defined as 50 or greater AU/mL, while 98.5% of patients with thalassemia had a response. Patients with thalassemia, however, had lower antibody titers than did healthy volunteers (mean, 7945 vs 9863, respectively; P =.0005; median, 4025 vs 7712). Patient characteristics, such as sex and age, did not affect these findings.

After a median follow-up of 12 weeks, the researchers noted no relevant adverse events from vaccination, and no patients in the beta-thalassemia group developed COVID-19.

“Further observations are ongoing to assess duration of response, efficacy and possible factors influencing this finding,” the authors wrote in the poster.

Read more of Hematology Advisor‘s coverage of the ASH 2021 meeting by visiting the conference page.


Zucano S, Tarantini F, Vitucci A, et al. Serological response to BNT162b2 anti-sars-cov-2 mRNA vaccine in patients with transfusion dependent thalassemia. Presented at ASH 2021; December 11-14, 2021. Abstract 3080.