Autoimmune Disease Treatments May Reduce Vaccine Responses

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  1. The Good Doctor

    The Good Doctor Golden Member

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    Immunosuppressive drugs for inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and ulcerative colitis can impair the body's response to the COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, according to new data.

    In 133 fully vaccinated people with such conditions, antibody levels and virus neutralization were about three-fold lower than in a comparison group of vaccinated individuals not taking those medicine, researchers reported on medRxiv ahead of peer review.

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    Most patients in the study "were able to mount antibody responses in response to SARS-CoV-2 vaccination, which is reassuring," coauthor Alfred Kim from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis told Reuters.

    It is not clear yet whether reduced antibody levels will result in decreased protection from infection or hospitalization, Kim said.

    Particularly concerning, he said, is the 10-fold reduction in vaccine-induced antibody levels seen in patients who routinely use steroids such as prednisone and methylprednisolone and a 36-fold reduction seen with drugs that deplete B cells, including Roche's Rituxan (rituximab) and Ocrevus (ocrelizumab). Reductions in antibody levels were more modest with widely used rheumatoid arthritis drugs in the class known as TNF inhibitors such as Abbvie's Humira (adalimumab) and Amgen's Enbrel (etanercept); antimetabolites like methotrexate and sulfasalazine; JAK inhibitors like Pfizer's Xeljanz (tofacitinib), gut-specific agents such as Takeda Pharmaceutical Co's Entyvio (vedolizumab), and IL-12/23 inhibitors including Johnson & Johnson's Stelara (ustekinumab).

    —Reuters Staff

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