Combination of vaccination studies involving 9 groups of immunocompromised patients funded by The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw)

When manufacturers are developing new vaccines, they assess their efficacy mostly in healthy adults. However, people with a compromised immune system are at greater risk of complications from COVID-19 infection and their level of protection after vaccination is not yet known.

The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw)

To investigate this further, scientists from around the world are gathering additional information on the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines in specific patient groups. ZonMw has facilitated eight such studies focusing on the effect of vaccination on these patients. The results of these studies will provide patients, caregivers and policy makers with the information they need to make sound choices in their vaccine strategy.

The patients targeted in the studies in the Netherlands include groups that have not yet been studied or where additional research is needed:

  • patients with primary immune deficiencies or immune disorders
  • cancer patients (solid tumours) treated with chemotherapy and/or immunotherapy
  • patients with cancer of the blood
  • patients treated with immunosuppressive drugs (e.g., rheumatism, IBD or MS)
  • kidney transplant and dialysis patients
  • lung transplant patients
  • people with HIV
  • people with Down’s syndrome

If the results of these vaccine trials are to be applied quickly, uniform working methods and knowledge sharing is vital, which has become even clearer during the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure this happens, the studies in the Netherlands apply harmonised protocols and standardised analyses. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and the Health Council of the Netherlands are fully involved in this collaborative approach.

Committee chairman Prof Dr Willy Spaan commented on the dovetailing of projects in which ZonMw plays a key coordinating role:

“This is a programme par excellence where harmonisation is not only logical but necessary. The studies are similar to each other and being able to compare the results means that much more can be gained from them. Because only a limited number of patients can be tested within the studies, ZonMw’s harmonisation requirement was particularly important. In this way, you can increase the results and the possible chance of treatment for these vulnerable groups.”

The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) has provided EUR 25 million for this COVID-19 vaccine studies programme, and supplementary means are being made available to answer urgent questions further to the eight studies.

As part of a broad programme of corona research alongside policy makers, researchers, patients, data professionals and international partners, ZonMw is advancing projects to contribute to the fight against COVID-19 and its effects on society now and in the future. The following vaccine studies receive support from ZonMw:

Immunocompromised patients

  • COVID vaccination in patients with haematological disease (COBRA-KAI)
  • Immune response in people with autoimmune disease taking immunosuppressive medication (2TB/Target to B substudy)
  • Study of immune response after COVID-19 vaccination in lung transplant patients (COVALENT)
  • COVID vaccination in adults and children with Down’s syndrome (PRIDE)
  • COVID-19 vaccination in renal patients (RECOVAC)
  • SARS-CoV-2 vaccination response in people living with HIV (COVIH)
  • Effect and safety of COVID-19 vaccinations in patients with primary immune deficiencies (VACOPID)
  • Vaccination against COVID in cancer (VOICE)

Other studies

  • Switching of COVID-19 vaccines (SWITCH)
  • Timing and sequence of vaccination against COVID-19 and Influenza (TACTIC)
  • Vaccinating children with Long-COVID to improve overall fitness (VINCERE)
  • Long-COVID and vaccination in RECoVERED
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The GloPID-R Secretariat is a project which receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101094188.