Third Vaccine Dose May Protect Those With Autoimmune Diseases

People who suffer from an autoimmune disease may benefit from a third dose of the Covid vaccine to protect them from breakthrough infections, a new study suggests.

The vaccine programme is still rolling out in the UK – over 88% of adults have had their first dose and over 72% are now fully vaccinated with two doses.

Currently, two doses of the vaccine provides 90% protection against hospitalisation against the Delta variant. The latest data from Public Health England and Cambridge University shows that around 60,000 deaths and 52,600 hospitalisations have been prevented by vaccines up to July 23.

However, autoimmune diseases often require treatment that dampens the immune system leaving the immunocompromised still vulnerable to Covid and prompting growing calls for them to get a third dose of the vaccine

Previously medical professionals have been unsure whether Covid vaccines would work on immunocompromised people who take B-cell-depleting drugs, such as rituximab to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

However, a pre-print study from the Medical University of Vienna found patients taking rituximab were still able to develop a humoral and cellular immune response – including the antibody production necessary to fight Covid-19.

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