Riding the Omicron BA.5 Wave: Improved Humoral Response after Vaccination with Bivalent Omicron BA.4-5-Adapted mRNA SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine in Chronic Hemodialysis Patients
Hemodialysis patients faced an excess morbidity and mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic. We evaluated the effect of second-generation mRNA vaccines against Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants of SARS-CoV-2 on humoral immunity. The study population comprised 66 adult hemodialysis patients who have encountered four SARS-CoV-2 antigen contacts through vaccination or infection. We assessed their humoral response using an anti-SARS-CoV-2 spike receptor binding domain IgG antibody assay (S-RBD-ab), measuring neutralizing antibodies against ancestral strain of SARS-CoV-2, Delta, and Omicron in a surrogate virus neutralization test (SVNT), and specifically against BA.5 in a plaque reduction neutralization test (PRNT) before and four weeks after vaccination with Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.4-5. During the following six months, SARS-CoV-2 infections and symptom severity were documented. The bivalent mRNA vaccine led to a 7.6-fold increase in S-RBD-ab levels and an augmented inhibition of the Omicron variant in SVNT by 35% (median). Seroconversion in the Omicron BA.5-specific PRNT was attained by in 78.4% of previously negative patients (29/37). Levels of S-RBD-ab correlated with inhibition in the Omicron-specific SVNT and neutralization titers in the BA.5-PRNT. Eleven SARS-CoV-2 infections occurred in the six-month follow-up, none of which took a life-threatening course. The bivalent mRNA vaccine improved the SARS-CoV-2 virus variant-specific humoral immunity in chronic hemodialysis patients. Measurement of S-RBD-ab can be used in hemodialysis patients to estimate their humoral immunity status against Omicron BA.5.