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Study launched to investigate Covid-19 vaccine protection in young, immunosuppressed people

  • Immunosuppressed transplant recipients between the age of 12-17 added to the MELODY study population
  • Additional funding hopes to add clarity on whether young immunocompromised people develop antibodies from three doses of Covid-19 vaccine
  • Latest addition to the study will help to develop future strategies for this particularly vulnerable group  

London 17 May 2022: A study into how well additional doses of the Covid-19 vaccine protects immunosuppressed people is set to be extended to include young people following a recent funding extension. The research project that was first launched in December of 2021 to evaluate third doses in adult patients was supported by a coalition of funders including Kidney Research UK, The Medical Research Council, Blood Cancer UK, Vasculitis UK and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, and will now seek to examine the impact that the vaccines have on immunocompromised patients aged 12-17 years.

Some smaller studies have suggested that immunocompromised people within this age group mount a stronger response to Covid-19 vaccinations than older immunosuppressed adults, but they are still thought to be more vulnerable than the general population. Overall, information on how young, immunosuppressed people have responded to vaccination is currently lacking. The team at Imperial College London will now expand the MELODY study to include immunosuppressed young people who have had an organ transplant, to assess the levels of protection the vaccines offer to immunosuppressed people across age groups.

Dr Michelle Willicombe, the study lead at Imperial College London said: “Information on how young, immunosuppressed people have responded to vaccination and the protection it affords them from infection is currently lacking, so we are delighted for the additional support so we can include children in MELODY to provide ongoing evidence. If we can understand more about how this group of people respond to vaccines, then this will inform future vaccination strategies and also identify those young people who are most at risk of catching Covid-19.”

Immunocompromised people have remained particularly vulnerable to the Covid-19 virus, leaving an estimated 500,000 people in the UK very much aware of their increased risk. The MELODY study was launched to provide vital insight into which patients remain vulnerable after vaccination, which will help to develop bespoke strategies for exiting the pandemic for those who continue to remain most vulnerable

Dr Aisling McMahon, executive director of research, innovation and policy at Kidney Research UK said: “We are starting to build a clearer picture on how vaccination has provided varying levels of protection within the immunosuppressed community, but we still have very little data on how well vaccines protect the younger members of this group. There cannot be a one size fits all approach to keeping all immunocompromised people safe and including data from this age group will allow for more effective strategies to be developed.”

Michelle and her team in London are aiming to recruit 1,000 immunocompromised transplant recipients between the ages of 12 and 17 years. Participants taking part will be given a home-based, self-administered test which requires a drop of blood from the thumb or finger to analyse the level of antibodies developed against the Covid-19 virus.

Those who wish to participate can self-register by visiting

About Kidney Research UK

As the largest kidney research charity in the UK, nothing is going to stop us in our urgent mission to end kidney disease. We’re here to be heard, to make a difference, to change the future. This is a disease that ruins and destroys lives. It must be stopped. Over the past 60 years, our research has made an impact. But kidney failure is rising, as are the factors contributing to it, such as diabetes and obesity. Today, we are more essential than ever. Kidney disease affects three million people in the UK, treatments can be grueling and currently there is no cure. Only research will end this.

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Last Updated: 17-May-2022