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Estimating the Risks from COVID-19 Infection in Adult Chemotherapy Patients

By Matt Williams, Ella Mi, Kerlann Le Calvez, Jiarong Chen, Lillie Pakzad-Shahabi, Seema Dadhania, James Wang, Andrew LK Ho, Simon Rabinowicz

Posted 20 Mar 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.18.20038067

The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) novel corona virus represents a significant health risk, particularly in older patients. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in most rich countries, and delivering chemotherapy may be associated with increased risk in the presence of a pandemic infection. Estimating this risk is crucial in making decisions about balancing risks and benefits from administering chemotherapy. However, there are no specific data about chemotherapy risks per se. Here we develop a simple model to estimate the potential harms in patients undergoing chemotherapy during a COVID outbreak. We use age-related case fatality rates as a basis for estimating risk, and use previous data from risk of death during influenza outbreaks to estimate the additional risk associated with chemotherapy. We use data from randomised trials to estimate benefit across a range of curative and palliative settings, and address the balance of benefit against the risk of harm. We then use those data to estimate the impact on national chemotherapy delivery patterns.

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