HealthDay News — Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), whose treatment can weaken the immune system, still produce a strong antibody response to COVID-19 vaccination, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Gil Y Melmed, MD, from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and colleagues assessed responses after mRNA vaccination in adults with IBD. Analysis included 582 patients recruited from 18 US gastroenterology practices and a social media campaign. In total, there were 854 samples for antibody assessments, including 113 after the first dose, 89 after the second dose, 115 at two weeks, 366 at 8 weeks, and 171 at 16 weeks.

The researchers found that 49% of participants had positive levels of antibodies after the first dose, 92% after the second dose, and 99% after week 2. Quantitative levels numerically increased from dose 1 to week 2, but then decreased at subsequent time points. Mean quantitative levels at 8 weeks in the no immunosuppression group were among the highest, but the study was not powered to assess differences by medication subgroups.


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“These findings should still reassure IBD patients — and the millions of people who use these types of immunosuppressive medications — that the immediate response to mRNA vaccines against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is good and on par with IBD patients who are not taking any drug therapies,” a coauthor said in a statement. “Even so, patients receiving anti-tumor necrosis factor therapy or corticosteroids may be the ones most likely to benefit from a third dose of the vaccine.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical or biomedical industries.

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