COVID-19 vaccines don't work in nearly half of organ transplant recipients, study finds

People who have received an organ transplant may not generate an immune response after getting vaccinated against COVID-19, according to research published May 5 in JAMA.

Researchers studied 658 organ transplant recipients who received two COVID-19 vaccine doses. Forty-six percent of the transplant recipients demonstrated no evidence of an antibody response to the vaccine after the first or second dose. Fifteen percent had a measurable antibody response after their first dose, and 39 percent had no antibody response after their first dose but had a measurable antibody response after their second dose.

Even the transplant recipients who did generate an antibody response from the vaccine had an immune response that was less robust than people with standard immune systems, Dorry Segev, MD, PhD, a transplant surgeon at Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins and one of the study's authors, told NPR.

The study found transplant recipients will have a reduced response to vaccination if they take antimetabolites, a class of drugs that prevents activity in B cells, where the body produces antibodies.


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