In the beginning of 2021, the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) launched eight different studies on the effects of COVID-19 vaccinations in immune compromised patients. Various knowledge partners are currently working in consortia on these studies. To ensure fast and effective implementation of the research results, ZonMw is working together with the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) and informs the Health Council of the Netherlands.

Accelerated research

The knowledge partners: UMCG, ErasmusMC, AmsterdamUMC, UMC Utrecht, RadboudUMC, LUMC, OLVG, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital and Maastricht UMC+ work with standardised protocols and measurement methods, enabling additional overarching analyses. In addition, interim results are discussed and shared between studies. The first initial results from some of these studies have recently been communicated.

Effect on immune system

There are some groups of patients in which two vaccinations against COVID-19 may likely not be sufficient to protect them against COVID-19. The ZonMw studies focus on patients with  autoimmune diseases who are being treated with immunosuppressive medication, patients with primary immunodeficiencies or immune disorders, cancer patients (solid tumours) undergoing chemotherapy and/or immunotherapy, patients with blood cancer, kidney transplant patients or those on dialysis, lung transplant patients, HIV patients and people with Down’s syndrome. Generally speaking, a vaccine stimulates the immune system. In these patients, however, vaccines may work differently or less effectively, and yet they are at greater risk of complications if they become infected. Therefore it is important to gain a better understanding of these patients’ immune response after vaccination. The results of the research will indicate whether vaccines protect immune compromised patients against the coronavirus. Patients are vaccinated as part of the Dutch government’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy. Read more about the eight studies.

Unique situation

ZonMw provides funding for COVID-19 research on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) and promotes the utilisation of the gained knowledge. Due to the current pandemic’s major impact on society and its rapid developments, ZonMw has initiated a COVID-19 research program. Different parties involved in research, professional practice and policy participate in the program, which has a unique structure to accommodate collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and apply the available expertise in the Netherlands and abroad to the fullest. Research results will be passed on to executive agencies to quickly be converted into policy. The research conducted in the COVID-19 program is important for the national vaccination strategy and will therefore have a direct impact on patients and on society.

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