New national study to assess prevention of COVID-19 infection in people who are immunocompromised

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People with CF who are post-transplant and have received at least their third COVID-19 vaccine dose will be able to participate in a new MELODY study announced today.

Although it’s known that the third vaccine offers additional protection, doctors and scientists don’t yet know to what level that protection is effective and whether that level depends on the reasons why someone is immunocompromised.

This study aims to find out if the immune response prompted by the third or fourth vaccine differs for people who, for example, have a health condition that affects their immune system, or who are taking anti-rejection medication following a transplant or who are receiving treatment for blood cancers. The outcome of the study could help inform what treatment or vaccination programme people who are immunocompromised may need to adopt in future and it may be possible to offer alternative treatments, such as monoclonal antibodies or other preventative therapies, for those who need it most.

The MELODY research study funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) in collaboration with several health charities including Cystic Fibrosis Trust, Kidney Research UK, Blood Cancer UK and Vasculitis UK, will measure the levels of antibodies of participants from a finger-prick blood sample that can be taken at home. Researchers will continue to monitor their health for six months after the antibody levels have been tested. The study is being led by scientists at Imperial College London.

Dr Lucy Allen, Director of Research at Cystic Fibrosis Trust, said “We’re excited to part fund this important study so we can learn how effective COVID-19 vaccines are for people who have weaker immune systems. People with cystic fibrosis who have had a transplant don’t build up the same response from two COVID-19 vaccines, meaning they are less protected and more at risk from serious illness and complications. Crucially, these results will show how well they have responded to a third or fourth vaccine and tell us the best way to protect this vulnerable group.

"Everything I do, I have to make a decision about: do I go out, do I see my friends and family – even more so than before the pandemic. While it is me that’s got CF and is post-transplant, my husband is shielding too. Not being protected by a COVID vaccine is having an impact on my whole family,” said Vicky who had a lung transplant over 20 years ago. Read more about Vicky's story on our website.

To find out more about the research study or to register to take part, please visit the study website: www.melodystudy.org. If you have difficulty registering your interest on the study website, please call the following free phone number: 0800 819 9150

Find out more about the MELODY study

Four doses of the COVID-19 vaccine

For people whose immune system is not working at full strength (described as being immunocompromised) then the Government recommended that they receive a third ‘primary’ dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, instead of the usual two. Recently they have advised those who have had three primary doses of the vaccine, should now be offered a fourth ‘booster’ dose. This should be given at least three months after the third vaccine dose.

Examples of people who are immunocompromised include people who have had solid organ transplants, such as lung, liver or kidney transplants who will be on anti-rejection medicines; or people who are receiving treatment for blood cancers.

More information on the COVID-19 vaccine for people with CF.

Support with transplant decisions

While there is excitement and anticipation about new and emerging treatments in the pipeline, and a huge amount of international research is being funded to improve and extend the lives of people with cystic fibrosis, there are many people with the condition for whom existing treatments are no longer having an impact. This is when a double lung transplant might be considered. Transplantation of other organs, including liver, can also be necessary due to the damage the condition inflicts across multiple organs.

The Trust’s transplant information resources provide advice and support for adults and children with CF, and their friends and family, to help them understand what it might mean for their loved one. Those affected may also be interested in watching the recording of our CF LIVE event on transplants and CF held last month.

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