Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cell Therapy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2020 Jul;26(7):1239-1246. doi: 10.1016/j.bbmt.2020.04.008. Epub 2020 Apr 14.


The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has significantly impacted the delivery of cellular therapeutics, including chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells. This impact has extended beyond patient care to include logistics, administration, and distribution of increasingly limited health care resources. Based on the collective experience of the CAR T-cell Consortium investigators, we review and address several questions and concerns regarding cellular therapy administration in the setting of COVID-19 and make general recommendations to address these issues. Specifically, we address (1) necessary resources for safe administration of cell therapies; (2) determinants of cell therapy utilization; (3) selection among patients with B cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas and B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia; (4) supportive measures during cell therapy administration; (5) use and prioritization of tocilizumab; and (6) collaborative care with referring physicians. These recommendations were carefully formulated with the understanding that resource allocation is of the utmost importance, and that the decision to proceed with CAR T cell therapy will require extensive discussion of potential risks and benefits. Although these recommendations are fluid, at this time it is our opinion that the COVID-19 pandemic should not serve as reason to defer CAR T cell therapy for patients truly in need of a potentially curative therapy.

Keywords: COVID-19; Cellular therapy; Chimeric antigen receptor T cells; Coronavirus; Pandemic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use
  • COVID-19
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / immunology
  • Health Care Rationing / ethics
  • Health Care Rationing / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive / ethics
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive / methods*
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / immunology
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / pathology
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / therapy*
  • Pandemics*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / immunology
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Precursor B-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / immunology
  • Precursor B-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / pathology
  • Precursor B-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / therapy*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / genetics
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / immunology
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen / genetics
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / transplantation*
  • Tissue Donors / supply & distribution
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen
  • tocilizumab