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    St Petersburg University doctors first to prove the safety of COVID-19 vaccine for patients with chronic kidney disease

    Nephrologists and geneticists from the Pirogov Clinic of High Medical Technologies at St Petersburg University have conducted a study on patients on haemodialysis for renal replacement therapy. They have also found out that vaccination against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) with the Sputnik V vaccine is effective and safe for patients with chronic kidney disease.

    The study population consisted of 21 patients, aged 39 to 84, who had been receiving haemodialysis therapy for five and a half years. Before vaccine administration, none of them had had COVID-19 (confirmed or suspected). The study did not include patients who had: been on corticosteroid or immunosuppressive therapy; malignant neoplasms; or secondary immunodeficiency.

    The first phase of the study was to monitor adverse reactions following the vaccine administration. According to the study findings, adverse reactions were reported in 30% of the subjects. After the second dose of vaccine was administered, pain at the injection site was reported in four patients, fever – in one patient, general weakness – in two patients, joint pain – in one patient, and muscle pain – in one patient. No allergic reactions to Sputnik V vaccine were reported in the study population.

    The aim of the second stage was to determine the effectiveness of vaccination. Four weeks after the second dose of the vaccine was administered, two blood tests were performed on all patients: a COVID-19 Spike Protein IgG Antibody test – to determine the number of antibodies as a response to vaccination; and a test for COVID-19 T cells immunity – to determine the number of specific T cells responsible for the long-term immune response of the body – the so-called cellular memory. The efficacy of Sputnik V vaccine in haemodialysis patients was similar to its efficacy in the general population. In 20 of the 21 participants, either a humoral (antibody production) or cellular immune response to the vaccine was reported. Most importantly, the participants were closely monitored for five months after the vaccination. During this period, none of the patients developed SARS-CoV-2 infection.

    The authors of the study are: Aleksei Tolkach, Ekaterina Parshina, Andrei Ivanov, and Pavel Kislyi, doctors from the Pirogov Clinic of High Medical Technologies at St Petersburg University. The study findings are published in the journal Nephrology and Dialysis.

    ‘The study findings suggest that the prevention of SARS-CoV-2 infection by full vaccination with the Gam-COVID-Vac, or Sputnik V, vaccine can be effective and safe for patients on haemodialysis for renal replacement therapy. It should be recommended for all patients when there are no contraindications to vaccination,’ said Dr Ekaterina Parshina, a co-author of the study. Dr Parshina is nephrologist and transfusiologist, Head of the Nephrology and Dialysis Department at the Pirogov Clinic of High Medical Technologies, St Petersburg University.

    The doctors from the Pirogov Clinic of High Medical Technologies expressed hope that this study will help nephrologists and general practitioners who make decisions regarding the vaccination of dialysis patients. Dr Parshina noted: ‘We would like to assist patients in decision-making about the need for vaccination. Indeed, it is a difficult decision to make in the absence of a reliable evidence base, on the one hand, and an active anti-vaccination campaign, on the other.’