Amid plans to ease COVID restrictions, dialysis patients remain vulnerable to Omicron

pharmafile | January 21, 2022 | News story | Medical Communications  

As the government in England relaxes COVID-19 restrictions, new data from the Francis Crick Institute raise concerns over the impact on dialysis patients. Those on in-hospital dialysis were found to have low antibody levels against Omicron following two doses of the vaccine, and a third dose still left a substantial fraction vulnerable to Omicron infection.

Published as a research letter in The Lancet, the results show that while a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine improved antibody response, a significant fraction of patients receiving in-hospital dialysis treatment appear to remain at risk from the Omicron variant.

The ongoing NAOMI study, funded by a coalition of kidney charities including Kidney Research UK, the National Kidney Federation, Kidney Wales, the PKD Charity and several Kidney Patient Associations, showed that the variant continues to pose a risk to kidney disease patients on dialysis despite them having received a second or even third dose of the vaccine.

Dr Aisling McMahon, Executive director of Research, Innovation and Policy at Kidney Research UK, stated: “As the pandemic continues, it is extremely important that we continue to monitor how well the vaccines are protecting kidney patients. These findings clearly show that many patients on dialysis are still vulnerable to Covid-19 infection, particularly the Omicron variant, even after three vaccine doses. We believe this study provides strong evidence that patients who travel to hospital for dialysis should receive a fourth vaccine dose to ensure they have the best protection possible.”

The majority of kidney patients on dialysis are currently only eligible for two primary doses of the vaccine as well as a booster. The results of this latest study reveal that kidney patients on in-hospital dialysis remain vulnerable to the latest dominant variant, and also suggest that they may require a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to ensure adequate protection from Omicron.

Rupert Beale, head of the Crick’s Cell Biology of Infection Laboratory, said: “New variants will continue to arise as the pandemic evolves, and for vulnerable patients, it’s especially important to assess the specific risks.”

Ana Ovey

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