A new study finds therapies used to treat lupus (mycophenolate mofetil (CellCept®), tacrolimus (Protopic®), and belimumab (Benlysta®) significantly reduce a person’s response to the COVID-19 vaccine. The COVID vaccine was most effective and did not trigger disease flares when vaccine administration was managed along with the person’s lupus medications. Some immunosuppressive drugs used to treat lupus increase COVID infection risk and decrease the vaccine’s effectiveness.
Researchers analyzed and compared data from 334 people with lupus and 1,887 health care workers without lupus. They examined COVID antibodyImmunoglobulin G (IgG) levels after vaccination over time in both groups. Higher IgG levels indicate a stronger immune response to the vaccine, suggesting a greater protective effect against the virus. They also looked at the effect of immunosuppressive medications on post-vaccination antibody levels in those with lupus.
The researchers found that taking mycophenolate mofetil, tacrolimus, and belimumab at the time of vaccination was associated with reduced IgG (COVID antibody) levels. However, temporarily stopping mycophenolate mofetil administration on the day of and for one week after the COVID vaccine resulted in increased post-vaccine IgG (COVID antibody) levels and did not lead to flare activity.
Researchers hope these data will be helpful to clinicians and help revise treatment guidelines for better outcomes in people with lupus. The Lupus Foundation of America remains committed to providing resources and support regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn about up-to-date health information on the COVID-19 vaccine for people with lupus and talk to your doctor before making any changes to your medication.
Article Credit: Lupus Foundation of America | lupus.org