Diminished and waning immunity to COVID-19 vaccination among hemodialysis patients in Israel: The case for a third vaccine dose

Avital Angel-Korman, Esther Peres, Gabriel Bryk, Yaniv Lustig, Victoria Indenbaum, Sharon Amit, Vladimir Rappoport, Zeev Katzir, Yoram Yagil, Nomy Levin Iaina, Adi Leiba, Tal Brosh-Nissimov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Humoral responses to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines in hemodialysis (HD) patients can direct vaccination policy. Methods: We compared 409 COVID-19-naïve HD patients from 13 HD units in Israel to 148 non-dialysis-dependent COVID-19-naïve controls. Twenty-four previously infected (antinucleocapsid positive) HD patients were analysed separately. Blood samples were obtained ≥14 days post-vaccination (BNT162b2, Pfizer/BioNTech) to assess seroconversion rates and titers of anti-spike (anti-S) and neutralizing antibodies. Results: The median time from vaccination to blood sample collection was 82 days [interquartile range (IAR) 64-87] and 89 days (IQR 68-96) for HD patients and controls, respectively. Seroconversion rates were lower in HD patients compared with controls for both anti-S and neutralizing antibodies (89% and 77% versus 99.3%, respectively; P < 0.0001). Antibody titers were also significantly lower in HD patients compared with controls {median 69.6 [IQR 33.2-120] versus 196.5 [IQR 118.5-246], P < 0.0001; geometric mean titer [GMT] 23.3 [95% confidence interval (CI) 18.7-29.1] versus 222.7 [95% CI 174-284], P < 0.0001, for anti-S and neutralizing antibodies, respectively}. Multivariate analysis demonstrated dialysis dependence to be strongly associated with lower antibody responses and antibody titers waning with time. Age, low serum albumin and low lymphocyte count were also associated with lower seroconversion rates and antibody titers. HD patients previously infected with sudden acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) had no difference in their seroconversion rates or antibody titers compared with COVID-19-naïve patients. Conclusion: This study demonstrates diminished and waning humoral responses following COVID-19 vaccination in a large and diverse cohort of HD patients, including those previously infected with SARS-CoV-2. Considering these results and reduced vaccine effectiveness against variants of concern, in addition to continued social distancing precautions, a third booster dose should be considered in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-234
Number of pages9
JournalCKJ: Clinical Kidney Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • BNT162b2 vaccine
  • COVID-19
  • anti-S antibodies
  • hemodialysis
  • humoral response
  • neutralizing antibodies
  • seroconversion
  • waning immunity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology
  • Transplantation


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