The Potential COVID-19 Booster for Patients With MS: Joshua Katz, MD

Disease Spotlight | <b>Disease Spotlight: Multiple Sclerosis</b>

The codirector of the Elliot Lewis Center for Multiple Sclerosis Care discussed the prospective COVID-19 vaccination booster and its implication for patients with MS.

“The good news for MS patients is that for the most part, they don't appear to be more susceptible to getting COVID, or having more severe infections if they do get COVID…But we don't really have a lot of experience with the breakthrough cases, so I'm sort of waiting with bated breath to find out if my patients who have been vaccinated, but who didn't have a good response to the first vaccine, are going to show signs that they're more susceptible to breakthrough infections.”

A phase 2 clinical trial has been initiated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to evaluate antibody response to a COVID-19 booster vaccine in immunocompromised patients who have not had a response to the original vaccine dosing regimen. Joshua Katz, MD, codirector, Elliot Lewis Center for Multiple Sclerosis Care, assistant professor, neurology, Tufts University School of Medicine, and chairman, Clinical Advisory Committee, New England Chapter, National MS Society, while not associated with the trial itself, offered commentary on what he hopes to learn from the trial as well as the importance of an effective booster for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). 

The desired outcome from the trial is twofold in that experts hope to reduce infectivity and provide better levels of protection, as breakthrough cases and the Delta variant of COVID-19 continue to raise questions and concerns. The trial is sponsored and funded by a subsect of NIH, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, and will evaluate patients with MS, pemphigus, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, or systemic sclerosis. Katz addressed the patient population with MS specifically, noting that data does not show an increased risk of infection or more intense illness, despite a lack of understanding as to susceptibility to breakthrough infections. 

REFERENCE
NIH launches study of extra COVID-19 vaccine dose in people with autoimmune disease. News release. National Institutes of Health. August 27, 2021. Accessed September 9, 2021. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-launches-study-extra-covid-19-vaccine-dose-people-autoimmune-disease