Humoral response and breakthrough infections with SARS-CoV-2 B.1.617.2 variant in vaccinated maintenance hemodialysis patients

Ori Wand, Naomi Nacasch, Ayman Fadeela, Moshe Shashar, Ayelet Grupper, Sydney Benchetrit, Daniel Erez, Pnina Shitrit, Keren Cohen-Hagai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Breakthrough COVID-19 may occur in vaccinated people, and may result from declining vaccine effectiveness or highly transmittable SARS-CoV-2 variants, such as the B.167.2 (delta) variant. We investigated risk factors and outcomes for infection with the delta variant among vaccinated hemodialysis patients. Methods: Patients on maintenance hemodialysis who received two doses of the BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) vaccine were analysed according to having developed COVID-19 (study group) or not (control group), in a retrospective, observational, comparative study. We compared risk-factors for developing breakthrough COVID-19 and assessed clinical outcomes, including 30-day mortality rates. Results: Twenty-four cases of breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 infection were compared to 91 controls without infection. Breakthrough infection was associated with chronic immunosuppressive treatment, hematological malignancies, and low antibody levels against SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. All COVID-19 cases occurred at least 5 months after vaccination, and most were caused by the B.1.617.2 variant (at least 23/24 cases). COVID-19 was categorized as severe or critical disease in 11/24 patients (46%), and 54% required hospitalization and COVID-19-directed treatment. The source of infection was nosocomial in 6/24 cases (25%), and healthcare-related in 3/24 (12.5%). Mortality rate was 21%. Overall mortality was significantly higher in patients who developed COVID-19 than in controls (odds ratio for all-cause mortality 7.6, 95% CI 1.4–41, p = 0.002). Conclusions: Breakthrough COVID-19 with the B.1.617.2 variant can occur in vaccinated hemodialysis patients and is associated with immunosuppression and weaker humoral response to vaccination. Infections may be nosocomial and result in significant morbidity and mortality. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Nephrology
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • BNT162b2 vaccine
  • Breakthrough COVID-19 infection
  • Maintenance hemodialysis
  • SARS-CoV-2 variant


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