Clinical outcome and humoral immune responses of β-thalassemia major patients with severe iron overload to SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccination: a prospective cohort study

Hussam Ghoti, Hala Zreid, Israa Ghoti, Arno R. Bourgonje, Arjan Diepstra, Harry van Goor, Irit Avivi, Hisham Jeadi, Larissa E. van Eijk*, Günter Weiss

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

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Background
COVID-19 has raised special concern for patients with β-thalassemia major (β-TM) due to frequent comorbidities, regular blood transfusions, and iron overload. However, the exact implications of COVID-19 for patients with β-TM remain uncertain. We aimed to explore the COVID-19 incidence and severity, and the serological response to SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccination in patients with β-TM.
Methods
Patients with β-TM (n = 105) and age-matched healthy controls, all individuals of all control groups were health care workers of the hospital, were prospectively enrolled at the haematology department of Al-Shifa hospital in the Gaza Strip from January 1st, 2021 to December 31st, 2021. Data on COVID-19 incidence and severity were analysed, with Alpha, Beta, and Delta SARS-CoV-2 variants dominating at that time. Anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibody levels were measured and compared between study groups.
Findings
Patients with β-TM showed a higher incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection than the general population (61.9% vs. 7.1%, p < 0.0001). Most patients with β-TM had asymptomatic (70.8%) or mild disease (26.1%), with no fatalities recorded. COVID-19 illness was more severe among female than male patients with β-TM. Anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies were significantly higher in symptomatic patients with β-TM than controls post-infection (geometric mean ÷ geometric standard deviation 1299.0 ÷ 3.3 vs. 555.7 ÷ 2.4 AU/mL, p = 0.009) and post-vaccination (8404.0 ÷ 3.9 vs. 2785.6 ÷ 5.0 AU/mL, p = 0.015). Similar responses were observed when comparing splenectomised to non-splenectomised (both asymptomatic and symptomatic) patients with β-TM post-infection (595.4 ÷ 3.9 vs. 280.7 ÷ 3.5 AU/mL, p = 0.005) and post-vaccination (13,778.2 ÷ 3.2 vs. 4961.8 ÷ 4.1 AU/mL, p = 0.045).
Interpretation
This distinctive β-TM cohort exhibited a high susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection but mild disease course. Our findings support favourable serological responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection and to vaccination in patients with β-TM, indicating a potential interplay between iron availability and COVID-19-related immunity.
Originele taal-2English
Artikelnummer102096
Aantal pagina's12
TijdschriftEClinicalMedicine
Volume62
DOI's
StatusPublished - aug.-2023

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