The UK’s independent Drug Safety Research Unit (DSRU) has called for more research to understand the weaker COVID-19 vaccine protection for immunocompromised patients.

The DSRU has reviewed data from multiple studies comparing the immune responses of immunocompromised patients to COVID-19 vaccines with healthy people.

According to the DSRU, all of these studies showed immunosuppression appeared to weaken the immune response to COVID-19 vaccines.

In particular, of all the immunosuppressed patient groups examined, solid organ transplant recipients had the weakest immune response to vaccination.

All studies involving this patients group showed less than half of those vaccinated produced detectable anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.

Meanwhile, patients on dialysis were found to have a stronger immune response compared to kidney transplant recipients, which suggests these patients should be vaccinated before their transplant if possible.

“The limited data we have right now suggests people with health conditions suppressing their immune system don’t get the same protection from COVID-19 vaccines,” said Saad Shakir, director of the DSRU.

“We already know these people are more vulnerable to COVID-19 in the first place. As restrictions ease, and infections inevitably rise, we need to ensure these people understand their risk and how best to reduce it.

“We also need to include immunocompromised patients in clinical trials so we can better understand different immune responses to vaccines before they are used by the wider population,” he added.