People whose immune system is compromised run a higher risk of complications if they contract COVID-19. Furthermore, we do not have enough evidence to show whether these people are sufficiently protected after being vaccinated. For this reason, the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development, ZonMw, is facilitating eight studies focusing on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in these groups of patients. The findings of these studies will help patients, practitioners and policymakers to make the right decisions for the vaccination strategy.

Sign up for the webinar series on COVID-19 vaccination in immunocompromised patients

On december 7th, 2021 we will start a new Zoom Webinar Series covering different ongoing studies in the Netherlands that are investigating vaccination against COVID-19 in people with a hampered immune system.

Vaccinations for people with a compromised immune system

People with a compromised immune system display little or no response to a COVID-19 vaccination. An additional vaccine dose could be the solution to more effectively protect these so-called non- and low-responders against the virus.

Vaccine research in healthy adults

To investigate the effectiveness of vaccines, manufacturers conduct their initial trials on healthy adults. This was also done during the development of the new vaccines to combat COVID-19. Specific risk groups were only included in these initial vaccination studies to a limited degree, such as people with certain diseases or disorders, obese people, those with Down’s syndrome, pregnant women and certain age groups.

Vaccination strategy: optimum protection for everyone

In combatting the pandemic, it is important that everyone is protected as well as possible against contracting COVID-19 after being vaccinated. We know that the vaccines are effective in healthy adults. Scientists all over the world are collecting additional information about the effectiveness of the vaccines in specific groups, for example in immune compromised patients.

Special attention to compromised immune systems

In addition to international studies, we are looking at a number of specific target groups in the Netherlands among which no research has been conducted, or where additional research is needed. These are people with a weakened immune system. We are specifically looking at:

  • patients with primary immunodeficiencies or immune disorders
  • cancer patients (solid tumours) undergoing chemotherapy and/or immunotherapy
  • patients with blood cancer
  • patients being treated with immunosuppressive medication (for rheumatism, IBD or MS)
  • kidney transplant patients and those undergoing dialysis
  • lung transplant patients
  • people with HIV
  • people with Down’s syndrome

Uniform methodology makes sharing knowledge simpler

It is important that the findings from these vaccine studies can be put into practice quickly. To enable knowledge sharing and overarching research, the studies in the Netherlands work on the basis of jointly agreed protocols and measurement methods. In addition, the interim results of these eight studies will be shared. The Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS), the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and the Health Council of the Netherlands are also involved  to either facilitate and/or assist in the implementation of study results.

Willy Spaan, the Chair of the Assessment Committee, and RIVM Coordinator Cécile van Els talk about this unique harmonisation of projects in which ZonMw has a coordinating role.

Total budget: 25 million euros

The Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) has made 25 million euros available for this part of the COVID-19 vaccine studies programme. Besides these eight studies, regarding patients with a compromised immune system, additional studies have an will be established to answer urgent questions.

Vaccine studies: part of broad coronavirus research

In conjunction with funding bodies, policymakers, researchers, patients, practitioners, data professionals and international partners, ZonMw is working on current and future ways of mobilising research and knowledge to contribute to solutions in the battle against the coronavirus and COVID-19 and their effects on society. The vaccine studies are part of this. Visit the project pages for more information on the projects.

COVID-1 9 vaccination in patients with a haematological disorder (COBRA-KAI)

Immunity after SARS-CoV-2 (2TB/Target to B substudy)

Research into immune response after COVID-19 vaccination in lung transplant patients (COVALENT)

COVID vaccination in adults and children with Down’s syndrome (PRIDE)

COVID-19 vaccination in kidney patients (RECOVAC)

SARS-CoV-2 vaccination response in people living with HIV (COVIH)

The effect and safety of COVID-19 vaccinations in patients with primary immunodeficiencies (VACOPID)

Vaccination against COVID-19 in cancer patients (VOICE)

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