Background Solid organ transplant (SOT) recipients are at increased risk for morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 due to their immunosuppressed state and reduced immunogenicity from COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. This investigation examined the association between COVID-19 mRNA vaccination status and mortality among SOT recipients diagnosed with COVID-19. Methods & findings A retrospective, registry-based chart review was conducted investigating COVID-19 mortality among immunosuppressed solid organ transplant (SOT) recipients in a large metropolitan healthcare system in Houston, Texas, USA. Electronic health record data was collected from consecutive SOT recipients who received a diagnostic SARS-CoV-2 test between March 1, 2020, and October 1, 2021. The primary exposure was COVID-19 vaccination status at time of COVID-19 diagnosis. Patients were considered ‘fully vaccinated’ at fourteen days after completing their vaccine course. COVID-19 mortality within 60 days and intensive care unit admission within 30 days were primary and secondary endpoints, respectively. Among 646 SOT recipients who were diagnosed with COVID-19 at Houston Methodist Hospital between March 2020, and October 2021, 70 (10.8%) expired from COVID-19 within 60 days. Transplanted organs included 63 (9.8%) heart, 355 (55.0%) kidney, 108 (16.7%) liver, 70 (10.8%) lung, and 50 (7.7%) multi-organ. Increasing age was a risk factor for COVID-19 mortality, while vaccination within 180 days of COVID-19 diagnosis was protective in Cox proportional hazard models with hazard ratio 1.04 (95% CI: 1.01–1.06) and 0.31 (0.11–0.90), respectively). These findings were confirmed in the propensity score matched cohort between vaccinated and unvaccinated patients. Conclusions This investigation found COVID-19 mortality may be significantly reduced among immunosuppressed SOT recipients within 6 months following vaccination. These findings can inform vaccination policies targeting immunosuppressed populations worldwide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0279222
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12 December
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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