TUESDAY, June 8, 2021 (HealthDay News) – New research suggests that many people who have had organ transplants do not get an immune response from COVID-19 vaccines strong enough to ward off a “breakthrough” infection.
In a new review of 14 such cases, these breakthrough COVID-19 infections occurred in 10 new kidney recipients, two liver recipients, one lung recipient and one heart recipient, said a research team working at New York.
Eight of them had completed the Pfizer COVID-19 two-dose series of vaccines, five had completed the Moderna two-dose series, and one had received the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, according to the NYU Langone team.
“We need further studies to determine why these revolutionary cases may occur and how to prevent them, but we also want to ensure that transplant patients continue to take all the appropriate precautions that have protected them during the pandemic,” said Dr. Robert Montgomery, director of the hospital’s Transplant Institute, said in a press release from Langone.
Transplant patients usually take immunosuppressive drugs after receiving a donor organ, to help prevent organ rejection. But it is believed that using the drug could have the side effect of making vaccines less effective.
All of the patients in the new study were taking various immunosuppressive drugs, including: prednisone, calcineurin inhibitor (13), antimetabolite agent (13), belatacept (1), and mTOR inhibitor (1), Montgomery’s team noted.
Seven patients were hospitalized after their breakthrough infections, with five patients developing severe COVID-19 disease.
The heart transplant recipient, who was among those who developed severe COVID-19, has died, according to the study recently published online in the journal Transplantation.
“These are disturbing results for transplant patients who may think they are protected after being fully vaccinated,” Montgomery said.
The trials that led to the approval of the COVID-19 vaccines had “excluded immunocompromised patients,” according to study co-author Dr Sapna Mehta, an infectious disease specialist and clinical director of the institute.
In addition, “a recent report found that only 17% of transplant recipients had detectable anti-peak antibodies after the first mRNA vaccine, compared to 100% of non-immunocompromised patients with antibody responses in clinical trials,” said she declared.
Anti-spike refers to the “spike protein” of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus which is the primary target of approved vaccines.
“Further follow-up of the same cohort of transplant recipients shows that antibody responses improved to 54% after their second dose of vaccine,” Mehta said, but that level is still “well below response rates. in non-immunocompromised patients “.
Mehta noted that there are 10 million Americans with compromised immune systems.
Further studies are needed to determine the best vaccine dosages for these people, “who continue to live under enhanced pandemic precautions while their level of vaccine-related immunity remains uncertain,” Mehta said.
The American Society of Transplantation has more on COVID-19[female[feminine.
SOURCE: NYU Langone Health, press release, May 2021