In a breakthrough study, researchers have discovered that getting a double dose of the COVID-19 vaccine reduces mortality risk in organ transplant patients. The research was published in the Journal of the Transplantation Society and the International Liver Transplantation Society. "This study shows that vaccine protects transplant patients and cuts mortality by about half," said Transplantation Editor-in-chief Jeremy R. Chapman.
"Vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 substantially lowers the risks of "breakthrough" infections and death due to COVID-19 in adult organ transplant recipients," the researcher letter published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer mentioned. The study was conducted on 48,213 transplant recipients (solid organ or islet cell), 39,727 of whom had received two doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine (Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca). Dr Dorry L. Segev and colleagues of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, analyzed the rate of breakthrough infections after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in 18,215 adults who had undergone solid organ transplantation (kidney, liver, heart, etc.) at 17 transplant centres. All patients had received two doses of mRNA vaccines (Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna).
As per published reports, the rate of COVID-19 infection decreased from 51 per cent in unvaccinated patients to 19 per cent in those receiving one vaccine dose, to 0.36 per cent in those receiving two doses. "The message is quite clear- get vaccinated, but carry on being very cautious, wear masks, maintain distances, and don't get into crowds," Chapman said while talking about the essentiality of the vaccines.
Among patients who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, a drop of mortality risk was observed from 12 per cent to 7.7 per cent for those who had received two vaccine doses. The observation was in comparison to 12 persons who received one dose of the government-sanctioned COVID-19 vaccines. Thus, fully vaccinated transplant recipients were also at a significantly lower risk of death from COVID-19.
As per the study, about 151 patients developed breakthrough infections at a rate of 0.83 per cent. In the observed group, there were 87 cases of COVID-19 requiring hospitalization and 14 deaths. "The breakthrough infection rate varied between hospitals: from 0.23 per cent to 2.52 per cent," the study added. Segev and coauthors explained that compared to the general population, "solid organ transplant recipients in our study had an 82-fold higher risk of breakthrough infection and 485-fold higher risks of breakthrough infection with associated hospitalization and death."
This UK-based study has provided the first national registry-based analysis of real-world data on SARS-CoV-2 vaccine effectiveness among organ transplant recipients. "We believe this information will provide some assurance to vaccinated patients and help clinical teams target interventions to encourage currently unvaccinated patients to take up the offer of both vaccine doses at the earliest opportunity," Dr Rommel Ravanan FRCP and colleagues concluded.