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Dialysis Patients Develop Lower Antibody Response to Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine

MONDAY, April 12, 2021 -- Most patients with kidney failure undergoing regular dialysis develop a substantial antibody response after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, according to a study published online April 6 in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Ayelet Grupper, M.D., from the Tel Aviv Medical Center in Israel, and colleagues assessed the humoral response following vaccination with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in 56 patients on maintenance hemodialysis and 95 health care workers without kidney failure (control group).

The researchers found that all individuals in the control group and 96 percent in the dialysis group developed an antibody response. In the dialysis group, the immunoglobulin (Ig)G levels (median, 2,900) were significantly lower than in the control group (median, 7,401). In both groups, there was a significant inverse correlation between age and IgG levels. The odds of being in the lower quartile of IgG levels were significantly higher for older individuals (odds ratio, 1.11 per year of age) and for the dialysis group versus the control group (odds ratio, 2.7). Among dialysis patients, older age (odds ratio, 1.22 per one-year older) and lower lymphocyte count (odds ratio, 0.83 per 10-e3/µl-higher lymphocyte count) were associated with antibody response in the lower quartile.

"I believe our findings should encourage patients with kidney failure treated with dialysis to be vaccinated as soon as vaccination becomes available for them, while we as ... caregivers should explore ways to enhance its efficacy in our patients," a coauthor said in a statement.

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