People with conditions that compromise their immune systems exhibit a wide spectrum of antibody responses to COVID-19 vaccination, ranging from only 1 in 5 lung transplant patients having an antibody response to a nearly complete response in patients with well-controlled HIV. The results are part of an interim analysis of a large study on UPMC patients and health care workers.
“Our study highlights the urgent need to optimize and individualize COVID-19 prevention in patients with immunocompromising conditions and have other treatments—such as monoclonal antibodies—available should vaccination fail,” said lead author Ghady Haidar, M.D., UPMC transplant infectious diseases physician and assistant professor in Pitt’s Division of Infectious Diseases. “Given the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations permitting vaccinated people to abandon masking and social distancing in most settings, our findings also have implications for public health guidance, since nearly 4% of Americans are immunocompromised.”
“This is important because we’ve seen several studies indicating that immunocompromised people are less likely to produce antibodies in response to COVID-19 vaccination,” said senior author John Mellors, M.D., chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at UPMC and Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Pitt. “And we can assume this means they’re less likely to be able to fight the virus, but until we were able to test for virus neutralization, that was only an assumption. Our results give us more confidence in saying that people who do not produce antibodies truly are at greater risk of COVID-19 infection and that the level of antibodies produced is a proxy for ability to neutralize the virus.”
PHOTO INFO: (click images for high-res versions)
CREDIT BOTH: UPMC
CAPTION: Ghady Haidar, M.D., UPMC transplant infectious diseases physician and assistant professor, University of Pittsburgh Division of Infectious Diseases.
CAPTION: John Mellors, M.D., chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at UPMC and Distinguished Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh.