Covid vaccines not effective for patients who had lung, kidney transplants: Study
Covid-19 vaccines do not work well enough for patients who recently had lung- or kidney transplants, researchers at the University Medical Center Groningen found. While the vaccines are safe for both groups, these patients do not create enough antibodies after the vaccine to effectively protect them from Covid-19.
UMCG researchers studied the effect of Covid-19 vaccines in kidney patients, lung patients, and cancer patients. The results of the first two studies were published on the UMCG site on Tuesday. The results of the cancer patients study are not yet in.
The coronavirus is extra dangerous for lung transplant patients, because it infects the transplanted organ. And while the vaccines are safe to use on these patients, they are not or hardly effective for a large part of patients who have undergone a lung transplant, was found in a study led by lung transplant doctor Erik Verschuuren and virologist Coretta van Leer of the UMCG.
Patients who have a lung transplant are given drugs to stop their bodies from rejecting the new lungs. These drugs suppress the immune system, which makes these patients more susceptible to viral infections like the coronavirus. It also hampers their ability to create antibodies.
UMCG internist-nephrologist Jan-Stephan Sanders investigated the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines on approximately 12,000 kidney transplant patients who use immunosuppressive drugs, about 60 thousand patients with renal failure, and about 6 thousand patients on dialysis. The good news is that the vaccines are safe for all three groups of kidney patients. The vaccines are also effective for patients with kidney failure and patients on dialysis - after two shots they produce enough antibodies to protect them against Covid-19.
The bad news is that this does not apply to kidney transplant patients. 67 percent of this group produced no or insufficient antibodies. These mainly involved patients who recently had a transplant, patients with lower kidney function, and patients who were taking multiple immunosuppressive drugs.
Booster shots - a third or even a fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine - may be a solution for both lung- and kidney transplant patients, the researchers said. They will look into how effective booster shots will be in helping patients make more antibodies. It may also be helpful to stop certain immunosuppressive drugs before vaccination, if it is safe to do so, the researchers said.