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Organ Transplant Recipients Receive Significant Protection From COVID-19 Vaccine

Fully vaccinated participants experienced an 80% reduction in symptomatic disease.

A recent study conducted by investigators from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine has found that solid organ transplant recipients who received a vaccine for COVID-19 showed significant protection against the disease.

Results from the study were published in the journal Transplant Infectious Disease.

“These findings are encouraging for a couple of reasons,” Kristin Mekeel, co-author on the study said. “First, it demonstrates real world clinical effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination in a vulnerable population. Second, the effectiveness is better than expected, given that studies have found that only about half of solid organ transplant recipients develop detectable anti-spike antibodies after vaccination."

For the study, the team of investigators analyzed clinical data from the US San Diego Health transplant registry between January and June of 2021. The study included data from 2,151 solid organ transplant receipts.

Of those participants, 912 were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 1,239 controls who were either unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated. Roughly 70% of the vaccines were the Moderna mRNA vaccine.

Findings from the study showed that of the 65 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 among the organ recipients, 61 occurred in the control arm and 4 occurred in the vaccinated arm.

Among the fully vaccinated participants no deaths occurred, but 2 occurred among the control cases.

“Persons who have received an organ transplant are considered to be at increased risk for COVID-19 and for a severe outcome because their immune systems are necessarily suppressed to ensure their transplants are successful and lasting,” Saima Aslam, medical director of the Solid Organ Transplant Infectious Disease Service at UC San Diego Health said. “These findings offer strong evidence that getting vaccinated provides significant protection.”