The ANRS / Emerging Infectious Diseases research agency will deploy a two-year study to better measure the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines in 10,000 transplant patients suffering from cancer or kidney failure .
How effective are vaccines against Covid-19 when you have a transplant, have cancer or have kidney failure, that is to say with a weakened immune system? This is the question that an ambitious French study, which will last two years, wants to answer.
“The objective is to know how to best protect these patients,” explains infectious disease specialist Odile Launay, head of the study called Cov-Popart, which should cover a total of 10,000 people.
In these patients, the immune response is poorer than in healthy people, which can potentially interfere with the effectiveness of the vaccination since its purpose is to elicit this response.
This immune weakness can come from the health problems of these patients, but also from the drugs they take to solve them. This is the case, for example, in transplant recipients, who follow treatments intended to lower the immune system to prevent rejection of the transplanted organ.
For this type of patient, a third dose of vaccine was deemed necessary by the French health authorities, because the immune response is insufficient with two, this is shown by a study from the Toulouse University Hospital published on June 23 in the prestigious journal American medical NEJM.
Vaccination reminder required?
Depending on the results, the health authorities may, for example, decide to shorten the interval between the two or three first injections of vaccine and the boosters, which will undoubtedly be necessary for these patients.
The Cov-Popart study (for Covid-19 vaccine cohort in special populations) was set up by the ANRS / Emerging Infectious Diseases research agency. It is carried out in around thirty hospital structures, mostly part of Inserm’s Covireivac project devoted to research on Covid vaccines.
The first volunteers were included at the end of March and the goal is to reach 10,500. We are currently around halfway. Among them, 8,650 will have one of the diseases concerned by the study, but not the 1,850 others, in order to be able to compare the effectiveness of the vaccines between the two groups.
Diabetes, HIV or rheumatism
In total, the study includes around ten pathologies: diabetes, obesity, cancer, organ and bone marrow transplants, severe chronic renal failure, HIV infection, chronic inflammatory rheumatism and multiple sclerosis. Each of these subgroups is made up of 300 to 1,400 patients.
For each volunteer, a first blood test takes place at the time of vaccination, with any of the vaccines authorized in France, and the following ones will be taken one month, six months, one year and then two years after the last injection. This will measure the level of antibodies produced by the body after vaccination, an important indicator of its effectiveness.
In the event that some patients do not respond at all to vaccines, it will be necessary to opt for “other strategies”, warns Professor Launay.