An estimated 8% of Americans have an autoimmune disease, including a disproportionate number of people in the minority communities most severely impacted by COVID-19. In addition, higher rates of severe COVID-19 and death have been reported in people with autoimmune disease than in the general population. It is unclear whether this is attributable to the autoimmune disease, the immunosuppressive medications taken to treat it, or both.
Now, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is hoping to find out. The organization has begun a clinical trial to assess the antibody response to an extra dose of an authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine in people with autoimmune disease who did not respond to an original COVID-19 vaccine regimen.