Study compares immune responses in patients with and without renal failure after COVID-19 vaccination

The death rate from COVID-19 is particularly high in patients with kidney failure who are on dialysis. This makes SARS-CoV-2 vaccination among this group an important priority. Recent research has examined the immune reactions of patients suffering from and without renal failure following vaccination with various COVID-19 vaccines. The findings, which are published in Journal of the American Society for Nutrition and could aid in improving vaccination strategies for patients who are vulnerable.

Dialysis patients often exhibit a decreased response to vaccination. To better understand the predictors and dynamics of their antibody and immune cell responses to various SARS-CoV-2 vaccines headed by An S. De Vriese, MD, PhD (AZ Sint-Jan Brugge in Belgium) prospectively assessed responses at 4 or 5 weeks , and after 8 or 9 weeks following immunization with the Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT162b2) and Moderna (mRNA-1273) mRNA vaccines in 543 patients who are on hemodialysis and 75 individuals who have normal kidney function.

In the multicenter study the researchers found an incomplete and delayed antibody response, as well as an impaired immune cell response to vaccination in patients on dialysis. The mRNA-1273 vaccine elicited stronger responses than the BNT162b2 vaccine, for both patients with kidney disease and those who have normal kidney function. The researchers believe that this could be due to the higher mRNA dose in the mRNA-1273 vaccine than in the BNT162b2 vaccine.

These differences in immune responses could lead to different levels of effectiveness of vaccines in vulnerable populations over the long run, as the immune system is weakening and in the fight against the Delta variant.

Dr. An S. De Vriese, MD, PhD, AZ Sint-Jan Brugge, Belgium

In addition, patients on hemodialysis who had had a prior COVID-19-related infection, who did not take immunosuppressive medication, had higher serum albumin levels and lymphocyte counts. They also had previously had a positive response to hepatitis B vaccination, and were on dialysis for only a short amount of time had higher antibody and immune cell responses.

We believe that a high dose vaccine could be a viable option to improve the effectiveness of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in hemodialysis patients. Dr. De Vriese suggested that the most vulnerable patients, those who are taking immunosuppressive medications and have a low serum albumin or lymphocyte count, or are non-responders to hepatitis B vaccines, could be candidates for an additional dose of vaccine.

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Gemma Wilson

Gemma is a journalism graduate with keen interest in covering business news – specifically startups. She has as a keen eye for technologies and has predicted quite a few successful startups over the last couple of years.

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