Risk of COVID-19 in Patients with Cancer Receiving Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors

Oncologist. 2021 May;26(5):e898-e901. doi: 10.1002/onco.13768. Epub 2021 Apr 17.


Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the rate of coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) among patients with cancer treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs).

Materials and methods: This was a retrospective study of 1,545 patients with cancer treated with ICIs between July 1, 2019, and February 29, 2020, and 20,418 age-, sex-, and cancer category-matched controls in a large referral hospital system. Confirmed COVID-19 case and mortality data were obtained with Massachusetts Department of Public Health from March 1 through June 19, 2020.

Results: The mean age was 66.6 years, and 41.9% were female. There were 22 (1.4%) and 213 (1.0%) COVID-19 cases in the ICI and control groups, respectively. When adjusting for demographics, medical comorbidities, and local infection rates, ICIs did not increase COVID-19 susceptibility.

Conclusion: ICIs did not increase the rate of COVID-19. This information may assist patients and their oncologists in decision-making surrounding cancer treatment during this pandemic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • COVID-19*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors