(Reuters) – The AstraZeneca antibody shots given to prevent COVID-19 in high-risk children and adults with weakened immune systems do not adequately protect organ transplant recipients from the Omicron variant, researchers found.
The drug, Evusheld, did protect against the Delta variant in kidney transplant recipients, and lab test results released on Monday show Evusheld can neutralize Omicron in mice, including the highly contagious BA.2 version. But among 416 kidney recipients treated with Evusheld after Omicron became the predominant variant, 9.4% developed symptomatic breakthrough infections, with one in three of those patients requiring hospitalization, researchers reported on medRxiv ahead of peer review. Two patients died of COVID-19. In lab experiments, the researchers exposed the BA.1 version of Omicron that caused the massive winter surge to blood samples from 15 Evusheld-treated patients. None of the samples could neutralize the virus.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently advised that higher doses of Evusheld are likely needed to prevent Omicron infections, and that patients who received the originally approved shots should receive booster doses. The researchers said kidney transplant recipients “should be advised to maintain sanitary protection measures and undergo vaccine boosters.”
SOURCE: https://bit.ly/3wmjyWh medRxiv, online March 19, 2022.