Alan Sporn, owner and president of Spornette International and outgoing father of four who was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in 2019, had taken extra precautions throughout the coronavirus pandemic, although he has yet to need treatment for her cancer.
“We were very careful when we visited her, we always wore masks,” her daughter Bonnie Sporn told NBC Chicago. “When we arrived at his place, we ate either outside, we wore masks.”
But the 75-year-old hairbrush salesman was eager to get the shot because traveling was his career and his life. He received his first injection of the Pfizer vaccine in January and his second in early February, his family said.
In March, he decided to dine at a restaurant with friends, one of whom tested positive for coronavirus in the days following the meal.
Sporn started to have a fever and his doctor urged him to go to the emergency room and get tested. There he discovered he was positive for the coronavirus.
Doctors told Sporn’s family his lungs were clear and he was able to recover at home.
“This is where we would have liked to take a break and hit the pause button because we think some communication, a red flag was not alerted because my dad has the LLC, even though it is on. sleep, because he’s immunocompromised – anyone with cancer or HIV or lupus, you know, like anyone who has autoimmune disease – that should be a wake-up call, ”Bonnie said. Sporn.
Three days later, Sporn was admitted to another hospital. At the time, his lungs were “completely covered,” his family said.
“He had eight antibodies,” Bonnie Sporn said. “And you’re supposed to have thousands of [antibodies]. You know that after you get your second vaccine, it should show up in your system. “
A week later, on March 29, Sporn passed away. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office has listed its leading cause of death as pneumonia from the novel coronavirus.
“We think if he had undergone an antibody test when he found out he had COVID, it would have alerted us to his low antibody count, and we wouldn’t have let him go home.” said Bonnie Sporn. “We would have been, you know, either sending him straight to the hospital or at least monitoring him.”
The Illinois Department of Public Health has so far reported 32 deaths from COVID-19 or associated complications in people fully vaccinated since January 1, but more details on these cases are not available. As of April 28, 97 other cases of “revolutionary” vaccines – those who test positive for coronavirus at least two weeks after their last dose of vaccine – had been hospitalized.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, citing data from a recent UK study, reports that “some blood cancer patients may not achieve optimal protection from vaccines and may be more susceptible to COVID-19 infections after vaccination than the general public ”.
In this study from King’s College London, data showed that three weeks after a dose of Pfizer vaccine, an antibody response was found in 39% of patients with solid cancer and only 13% of people with cancer of the breast. blood, compared to 95% in healthy individuals. , the company reported.
The group urged blood cancer patients to continue to wear masks and take preventative measures such as social distancing and hand washing.
Likewise, a recent study from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center found that “people with cancer affecting the blood, bone marrow or lymph nodes are at high risk of COVID-19 vaccine failure,” especially those with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
The study tested the blood of 67 patients with “hematologic cancers” who had been vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at two doses three weeks earlier. Tests found that more than 46% of participants did not produce antibodies against COVID-19 and that only three out of 13 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia produced measurable antibodies, even though 70% of them were not undergoing any form of cancer treatment.
“As we see more and more national guidelines allowing unmasked gatherings among vaccinated people, clinicians should educate their immunocompromised patients that COVID-19 vaccines may not fully protect them against SARS-CoV-2 Says lead author of the study, Dr. Ghady Haidar. an infectious transplant physician and assistant professor in the university’s infectious disease department said in a statement. “Our results show that the chances of the vaccine producing an antibody response in people with hematologic malignancies are equivalent to a coin toss.”
According to Haidar, however, a negative antibody test does not necessarily mean that a patient is not protected against the virus.
Many drugs and treatments for certain cancers or other conditions can cause immune suppression or weaken an immune system.
The University of Chicago wrote in a blog post in February that there is little or no data on the effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines in immunocompromised people because they were not included in the initial trials of the vaccines.
“Researchers are uncertain whether these immunosuppressive treatments make the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines less effective – as some do with influenza vaccines – or whether stopping or postponing treatment could improve the effectiveness of the vaccines. But it is important that patients do not change their treatment schedule without first talking to their doctor, ”the post from the university read.
With little data to offer, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is asking those living with blood cancers to register to become a ‘Citizen Scientist’ and share their experiences with COVID-19 and currently available vaccines.
The Sporns said they hope people continue to get vaccinated, but also want their father’s story to raise awareness of the need for extra precautions.
“It’s just extremely sad and, you know, everyone’s doing a what-if,” Bonnie Sporn said. “So we’re trying to help people with their what ifs. What if that person has a pre-existing condition? Should she get the vaccine? Should she be watched? Should she still wear masks until… until when? “
Sporn’s obituary states that he “made friends wherever he went – at school, on the road and at work.”
“He left a warm and loving impression on everyone he met, even if it was only for a brief reunion,” the obituary read. “He knew people in every city he visited and even knew the airlines that brought you directly to that city. He didn’t know any stranger. Alan was so generous with his time and his love. He was a very loyal friend, mentor and philanthropist. To honor Alan, do something nice for someone or contact an old friend. “