The pandemic has put on the most significant toll on the transplant surgery patients among all other individuals with compromised immunity.
Almost 20% of those patients who got infected with the virus died, which accounts for almost 2000 deaths alone in New York City, compared to last year when just one or two deaths were recorded among the transplant patients in the previous flu season.
For The Immune-Compromised, Covid 19 Vaccine Does Not Mean The End Of The Pandemic
As implied by Dr. Robert Montgomery, a transplant surgeon at the New York Hospital and also a patient of heart transplant himself, his body did not develop any noticeable response for the immunization even after two doses of the vaccination.
Transplant surgeries and vaccination:
The patients who undergo transplant surgeries are often given medication that blocks the immune system of the body from attacking the transplanted organs or the tissue, but as a side effect of such medication, the body can stop producing antibodies required to fight any infection.
As per the data obtained from a recent study undertaken by the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, the first dose of vaccine produced the required antibodies in only 17% of the recipients, who were also patients under transplant treatment.
And 35% of those patients developed antibodies for the virus after receiving both the shots, both the statistics extremely low when compared to healthy individuals without any such ongoing treatment.
Studies have shown that the covid-19 vaccine is almost fully effective against the virus after one receives both shots, however for the vast majority of the American population, accounting for almost 10 million individuals who have compromised immunity, the vaccine efficiency is significantly low.
How much of immunity is enough and the probability of a third shot:
For someone like Michael Nadeem Baker, a patient of chronic lymphocytic leukemia that is out of remission, even two shots of vaccination does not guarantee protection from the virus.
For Nadeem Baker, who is presently receiving treatment at the Dana Farber in Boston, the pandemic still looks like it did last year during the peak, where sanitization, wearing a mask, and maintaining social distance is still very much a way of life.
It is not yet clear to the scientists and researchers that how much immunity or immune response is enough to consider an individual protected against the virus.
Once the specialists are able to answer that question, it will be a lot easier for the medical experts and the scientists to build protection for people like Montgomery or Nadeem Baker.
Some individuals like Montgomery, however, have signed themselves up for a voluntary trial for a third vaccination dose.
It did seem to work to some extent, while in testing, as a part of the trial, it was observed that Montgomery had developed enough immune response in his body by producing an adequate amount of antibodies and longer shielding T-cells.
Although it is not clear which one of the two can produce better protection, it does provide some peace of mind to people like Montgomery to know they have some shield against the virus.
The road ahead for the ones with compromised immunity:
While everyone waits to get more data on the effectiveness of vaccination for the compromised immunity system, specialists like Dr. Dorry Segev, at the John Hopkins Medical Center advise his transplant patients to get the vaccine shots but for assuring the safety, act as if they are not vaccinated.
Such individuals should follow all the safety protocols that were issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during the initial days of the pandemic.
The effectiveness of the third dose of vaccine is currently under trial, and specialists like Segev hope for a formal launch of a clinical trial for the third vaccine shots, keeping into consideration the safety and tracking of the patients after the trial.
Segev is hopeful that although such patients may not develop antibodies right away, they surely will get some protection from the virus.