July 14, 2022
The booster dose of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine significantly enhanced the degree of protection from COVID-19 infections for people with systemic lupus erythematosus according to a new study reported in The Lancet Rheumatology.
People with lupus have been shown to be at high risk for COVID-19 due to the malfunction of their immune system caused by the disease as well as common use of treatments that suppress their immune response. In reporting on their findings, study authors also refer to previous work showing that people with lupus have been more likely to develop severe COVID-19 and to be hospitalized.
The study was conducted by a group of lupus experts led by Dr. Amit Saxena at New York University who followed 163 people with lupus in New York City for at least six months after their initial vaccination. 125 patients within this cohort had received a third booster vaccine dose. The investigators compared the group of patients that had developed SARS-CoV-2 infection to the group that had not and discovered that only 64% of the patients in the former (i.e. the group that had developed an infection) were boosted while a significantly higher number of patients (82%) were boosted in the group that did not develop an infection. In other words, patients who received a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine were less likely to succumb to a SARC-CoV-2 infection than those who had received only the initial vaccine series.
The data also showed that most of the patients who had received the booster shot had higher levels of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies than they had after the initial vaccination. However, study researchers did not see an association between the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein antibody levels and occurrence of infection. Based on their findings, they posit that the additional dose enhances both B cell (antibody) and T cell responses leading to some protection against severe disease.