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Non-dialysis kidney patients benefit greatly from COVID-19 vaccination

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A new study shows that non-dialysis kidney patients who are vaccinated have a significantly reduced risk of COVID-19 infection – up to 78% with three vaccine doses – compared to their non-vaccinated time period. The results, which also show that vaccines significantly reduce risk of hospitalization and death from the virus in this population, were published this September in Kidney International.  

Mohammad Atiquzzaman, a researcher with BC Renal and Providence Health Care’s St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, co-led the study. He notes that while some studies have explored vaccine effectiveness in people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) who require dialysis, his team was interested in focusing on the non-dialysis CKD population.

To do so, the research team used BC Renal’s PROMIS database, which captures data of all kidney patients under specialized nephrologist care throughout British Columbia. 

“Through this massive registry, we had access to records of more than 18,000 kidney patients, which represents the biggest chronic kidney disease population in the province,” explains Atiquzzaman. 

Importantly, BC Renal has continuously added vaccination data to the registry since the vaccines were initially rolled out across the province in December, 2020. In their study, the researchers analyzed the correlation between COVID-19 vaccination status and risk of contracting the virus, finding that people’s risk of infection was 59%, 71% and 78% less with 1, 2, and 3 doses, respectively, compared to pre-vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals. 

As well, the risk of developing a severe COVID-19 related outcome, such as hospitalization or death, was 53%, 84%, and 90% less among patients with CKD who were vaccinated with 1, 2, and 3 doses, respectively, compared to pre-vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals. 

“Our conclusion is that COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing infection, as well as hospitalization or death,” says Atiquzzaman, emphasizing that being vaccinated could save lives. 

The study also compared the benefits of vaccination in non-dialysis kidney patients with relatively lower or higher kidney function. Atiquzzaman’s team was somewhat surprised to find that people with greater kidney function had a higher risk of contracting the virus despite being vaccinated; however, they speculate that this may be because of behaviour differences, whereby people with lower kidney function may be more careful in limiting their chances of exposure to the virus in the first place. 

Atiquzzaman emphasizes that the data in this study only captures COVID-19 infections up until December 2021, and therefore doesn’t accurately capture vaccine effectiveness against the Omicron variant.

However, he notes that other studies in the general population have found vaccines against the alpha and beta variants to also be effective against Omicron, suggesting that non-dialysis kidney patients may see similar benefits of vaccination against this more recent variant.

Publication: Covid-19 vaccine effectiveness in patients with non–dialysis-dependent chronic kidney diseases: Findings from a population-based observational study from British Columbia, Canada.  




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