Study Finds mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine and One Booster Dose May Not Fully Protect against Breakthrough Case of Omicron Variant in People with Autoimmune Disease
In people with autoimmune rheumatic diseases (ARDs), such as lupus, the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine and booster dose may not provide broad protection from developing a breakthrough infection (an infection with a virus after you have been vaccinated) of the Omicron variant. A new study finds the mRNA vaccine does not create sufficient antibodies to neutralize a response to (or fully protect against) Omicron.
The blood samples of 94 healthy healthcare workers and 149 people with ARDs, including lupus, were collected. Researchers examined the blood response to Omicron at 15 weeks after a second mRNA COVID-19 vaccine dose or 8 weeks after receiving a third mRNA dose or booster.
People with ARDs exhibited lower response or protection after the second dose to Omicron (11.5%) than the healthy healthcare workers (18.1%). After the third dose, a significant difference in response was observed – 26.8% in people with ARDs versus 50.3% in the healthy group. Within six weeks, significantly lower Omicron-neutralizing responses were observed in the ARDs group compared to the healthcare workers.
The results of this study do not mean that the COVID-19 vaccine is no longer effective for people with lupus. But it does highlight that as the virus changes, further research is needed to examine vaccine efficacy in people with autoimmune diseases. Talk to your healthcare provider about COVID-19 vaccination and/or booster shots and about whether you should continue to take other precautions, such as wearing a mask. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and lupus.