HealthDay News — For patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the risk for breakthrough COVID-19 infection is lower among those who have received a booster vaccine dose after initial vaccination, according to research published online in The Lancet Rheumatology.

Amit Saxena, MD, from the New York University Grossman School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues examined the effect of the initial vaccination series and an additional dose on COVID-19 infection, morbidity, and seroreactivity in patients with SLE, with clinical follow-up on or after February 4, 2022, and at least 6 months since initial vaccination. In 57 patients, longitudinal serologic evaluation of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike receptor binding domain antibody was performed.

The researchers found that breakthrough infections occurred among 22% of patients who received an additional COVID-19 vaccine dose compared with 42% of those who did not receive an additional dose. Among those with breakthrough infections, 64% had received an additional dose, while 82% of those without breakthrough infections had received an additional dose. Two cases occurred in patients prior to the omicron wave; both occurred in patients who had not received an additional vaccine dose. Only 2 patients were hospitalized, and there were no deaths. After the additional vaccine dose, the median SARS-CoV-2 antibody level increased. Antibody level after the additional dose was not associated with COVID-19 breakthrough infection.

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“COVID-19 vaccine boosters, or third shots, offered an added, doubled layer of protection from breakthrough infection,” Saxena said in a statement. “Even in cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection, cases were overwhelmingly mild among SLE patients who were fully vaccinated.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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