Vaccination provides weaker COVID-19 protection for immunocompromised patients

9 August 2021

The DSRU Global Pharmacovigilance Observatory recently completed a systematic review of multiple studies comparing the immune response to COVID-19 vaccines in immunocompromised patients with that of healthy people. We included all currently available data from both published and pre-print research papers on immunosuppression and COVID-19. We found that all studies showed immunosuppression appeared to weaken the immune response to COVID-19 vaccines.

Immunocompromised patients include cancer patients, people who have received organ transplants, bone marrow and stem cells, or have other conditions managed with immunosuppressive treatments. Of all the immunosuppressed patient groups examined, solid organ transplant recipients had the weakest immune response to vaccination. In all studies involving this patient group, less than half of vaccinees produced detectable anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. Most studies included in our systematic review were observational and while all studies included at least one mRNA vaccine (Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna), few included Oxford/AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines.

Immunocompromised people are already at higher risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19. As restrictions ease, and infections inevitably rise, it is important to ensure these people understand their risk and how best to reduce it. Specific public health measures to protect this group are imperative. Without such measures there will be avoidable serious morbidity and mortality.