A new study raises questions about the extent to which COVID-19 vaccines protect organ transplant recipients, and what precautions should be taken by people with a depressed immune system after a shot.
Vaccines restore the immune system to recognize the virus, which is harder to do if someone’s immune cells are not in good condition. Transplant recipients take powerful immunosuppressive drugs to prevent organ rejection, which increases their risk of coronavirus but excludes them from vaccine studies.
Experts say that the staff is safe for transplant recipients, և any protection is better than none. But to what extent do they protect?
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University on Monday reported the first attempt to find out. They tested 436 people who had received new organs in recent years and were receiving Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. A few weeks after the first dose, 17% of transplant recipients developed antibodies to the coronavirus, said study co-author Dr. Hopkins Transplant Surgeon Dr. Dori Seg.
Seg admits that transplant recipients may be better off after the second dose, he will try, but previous studies show that the first shot is enough to start producing antibodies in almost everyone who has a good immune system. :
Even more troubling is the fact that people whose transplants contain a type of antibacterial are much less likely to respond to a shot than those who do not. This was reported by the team in the journal of the American Medical Association.
The results came after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that fully vaccinated people could be relieved of some but not all of the coronavirus masking and removal precautions.
Seg called on the CDC to consider a more elegant message.
“As far as we know, transplant patients cannot assume they are safe after vaccination,” Seg said. They may need post-vaccination blood tests to be sure, he added.
The CDC did not immediately comment.
Dr David Mulligan, head of immunology at Yale University’s Department of Transplant Surgery, said Monday’s report was disappointing, but not surprising, as people with weakened immune systems did not respond well to other vaccines.
Some transplant groups, including the American Transplant Company, have already warned about this.
Yale Mulligan urged patients to contact their transplant center for advice. Those who are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant may be able to get vaccinated first. He said some people who have already had a transplant may be good candidates to temporarily reduce certain immunosuppressive drugs. And the person with the immunity must get both doses of the vaccine to get the best chance of protection.
“Our patients are already calling for advice,” Mulligan said. “Until you test your antibodies, you know, boy, did I get a stronger immune response, or did we get better data?” The immunized person should not give up their protection against the virus.
The Associated Press Health Science Department is supported by the Science Education Department of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The AP is solely responsible for all content.