Evidence on the effect of self-protection via social distancing and wearing face-masks on infections during chemotherapy is currently not available. We asked if the occurrence of acute infections during chemotherapy for advanced-stage Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) decreased when COVID-19 protection measures were in effect.
We analyzed the occurrence of infections during all documented eBEACOPP cycles starting between 01 March and 30 June of 2017 to 2020 in patients treated within the GHSG HD21 study in Germany and compared the infection rates and characteristics by logistic regression models and means of descriptive statistics.
We analyzed 911 cycles of 313 adult patients treated with 4 to 6 cycles of eBEACOPP. We found a significant decrease in the occurrence of infections during chemotherapy for HL during COVID-19 lockdown from 131 (19.6%) of 670 cycles in 2017-2019 to 30 (12.6%) of 239 cycles during COVID-19 lockdown [OR 0.574 (95% CI 0.354-0.930), P = 0.024]. The strongest effect was evident for unspecified infections with 39 cycles (5.8%) during 2017-2019 in comparison to 5 cycles (2.1%) during COVID-19 lockdown. 20 (24.1%) of 83 patients had an infection during the COVID-19 lockdown versus 99 (43.2%) of 229 patients in the years 2017-2019 (P = 0.0023).
The significant decrease of infections during chemotherapy for HL during COVID-19 lockdown reveals the protective measures’ potential to shield patients from transmissible pathogens. We conclude that these measures could be recommended for HL patients at risk for infections during chemotherapy.

© 2022. The Author(s).