The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
Cancer patients face poorer outcomes if they become infected with the new coronavirus, a new study shows. However, undergoing recent cancer treatments did not make COVID-19 outcomes worse, so cancer therapies should not be delayed, the research team advises in a report published on Friday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
The study involved nearly 23,000 patients with cancer who were tested for COVID-19 at U.S. Veterans Affairs health facilities nationwide. Roughly 1,800 (7.8%) had tested positive, with no effect of age on the likelihood of infection. COVID-19 rates were higher in patients with blood cancers (11%) than in those with solid tumors (8%).
Compared to patients who tested negative for the virus, COVID-19 patients had more hospitalizations, needed more intensive care, and needed more help with breathing. Death rates were 14% among cancer patients with COVID-19 and 3% in those without the virus.
Across the country, African-American and Hispanic cancer patients had higher rates of COVID-19 infection than white cancer patients – 15%, 11% and 6%, respectively. They also had higher rates of hospitalization. The real prevalence of COVID-19 among cancer patients remains uncertain, the researchers point out, because many have not been tested for the virus.