The Atlantic: ‘Stop Saying Vaccines Don’t Work for the Immunocompromised’

Benjamin Mazer, writing for The Atlantic:

But well-intentioned stories on this issue sometimes overstate the case, claiming that COVID shots for the immunocompromised are “ineffective” or “cannot work on everyone.” That is incorrect, and it hinders uptake of vaccines. The shots do provide these patients with very meaningful protection as a rule, Jennifer Nuzzo, the director of the Pandemic Center at Brown University School of Public Health, told me. To suggest otherwise “is just a complete distortion.... It’s just scaring people, and it’s not saving lives.” [...]

Antibodies matter, but they matter most for preventing illness, at any level of severity. Regarding the most dangerous outcomes from disease, recent research from the CDC indicates that — shot for shot — the immunocompromised achieve most of the same benefits as healthy people. One study, published in March, looked at the pandemic’s Delta wave and found that three doses of an mRNA vaccine gave immunocompromised people 87 percent protection against hospitalization, compared with 97 percent for others. Another CDC report, also out last month, suggested that on the very worst outcomes — the need for a breathing tube, or death — mRNA vaccines were 74 percent effective for immunocompromised patients (including many who hadn’t gotten all their shots), and 92 percent effective for the immunocompetent. A 10-to-20-percentage-point gap in safety from the most dire outcomes is consequential, especially for those who are most susceptible to the disease. Still, these results should reassure us that the immunocompromised are not fighting this battle unarmed.

Vaccines, vaccines, vaccines.

Thursday, 21 April 2022