It is important to note that these vaccines are not made by genetically-modifying technology. They do not make permanent genetic changes to our DNA. They do not work on our stem cells – only our immune cells.
After taking the Covid-19 vaccine, you may want to be tested to see if your body has developed any antibodies. What is important to know is that it may take longer for your body to produce antibodies than it is for a person who does not have CLL or who is not immune-compromised. You may want to wait at least a month.
A number of CLL patients (including me) signed up for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) clinical trial so that Dr. L. Saltzman could run some antibody tests on them to see the response of the vaccines: (1) SARS-CoV-2, Nucleocapsid; SARS-CoV-2 Semi-Quant Total Ab; Venipuncture; and (2) SARS-Cov-2 Semi-Quant Total Ab.
One of the tests is the nucleocapsid antibody test and the other test is the antibody spike protein test. You may need a prescription from a doctor to have these tests run in your local lab. These tests give you more information.
The nucleocapsid antibody test shows whether or not you have been exposed to Covid-19. If the nucleocapsid antibody test results are NEGATIVE, it means you have not been exposed to Covid-19.
The antibody spike protein test will show the number of antibodies you have developed. The antibody spike protein test indicates any titers produced by being exposed to the vaccine. Titer testing tests immunity. The importance of this is if it is POSITIVE, then you have had a response. That is good news. As to how protected you are if you have a small number, no one knows for sure right now.
Many CLL patients have not been able to produce antibodies or the number is so low that it appears to offer no protection. But this is only part of the solution to being protected against Covid infections. Don’t forget about your T-cells. They help protect you as well. Even if your numbers are so low that you essentially think you have no protection, it’s possible your T-cells can respond and protect you from future infections.
T-Cell Clinical TrialLLS will be starting a T-cell clinical trial soon. The T-cell test is available in research labs but it is not commercially available right now. LLS will be testing patients who are taking Imbruvica, Rutuxan, Gazyva, etc. Patients with a response will be tested against patients who did not respond.
And now what?
What CLL patients are ultimately hoping for is an anamnestic response, which means that there will be an immune response after serum antibodies can no longer be detected in the blood.
The answers will be found right around the corner…