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NephroPlus announced study on COVID-19 infection and benefits of vaccination in dialysis patients

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The study published in the reputed international Nephrology Journal, Kidney International Reports, finally bridges the gap between speculation and scientific fact

NephroPlus has undertaken a broad study to simplify the complexities and understand the impact of COVID-19 on Dialysis Patients and the benefits of vaccination.

It is a well-known and established fact that COVID-19 has a higher mortality among older people and those with other health conditions. However, there has been very little research to contextualize this observation with a keen focus on patients suffering from kidney faliure. Hence, policy makers and analysts have had to rely on speculations, mere observations and reports from health institutions around the world.

The study published in the reputed international Nephrology Journal, Kidney International Reports, finally bridges the gap between speculation and scientific fact. It also brings to bear the magnitude and severity of COVID-19, especially on patients undergoing dialysis. NephroPlus also studied vaccination and the rate of infections, hospitalisations, and mortality among vaccinated patients across India, with findings showing that vaccines are truly effective against COVID-19.

In the first wave, 14,573 dialysis patients were studied. Out of the number infected with COVID-19, 99% were hospitalised for an average of 12 days and mortality rate stood at 23%. Beside this alarming figure, the ripple effect on dialysis patients not infected with COVID-19 is also massive, according to the report. Government take-over and conversion of dialysis centres to COVID centres also greatly affected treatment and discouraged patients from attending dialysis sessions. This resulted in an increase in mortality among the dialysis population within the period from 15% in 2019 to 20% in 2020.

The study further sampled 17,662 patients in the second wave. 1,111 or 6.2% of the screened patients were infected with COVID-19 and a staggering mortality of 32.76% was observed amongst these patients. This is far greater than mortality recorded in 2019 within the same period. Age is another important variable that comes to bear in the study. The mean age of COVID-infected people was 53.63, with 45% of all infected persons above the age of 55.

According to the Principal Investigator, Dr Vivekanand Jha, the study showed that infections, hospitalizations, and mortality were all significantly reduced among people who had taken at least one dose of the vaccine.

“We found that those patients on dialysis who had taken even one dose of the vaccine had as much as 33% reduced risk of getting COVID infection compared to those who were not vaccinated. More notable was the halving of the risk of death, even if they got COVID-19,” he said.

Speaking further, Dr Jha who is also the Immediate Past President of the International Society of Nephrology said, “This study provides a nationwide snapshot of the health effects of the pandemic in this vulnerable population who did not have the choice of isolation or social distancing and needed to come to their dialysis centers regularly even during the peak of the pandemic. We found that COVID infection among patients on dialysis was 20-fold greater than that reported in the general population, when adjusted for age and sex. While it was 8.7% among dialysis patients during the study period, the infection among the general population stood at 0.44% during the same time period”.

The study is also a strong statement for doubters and anti-vaccine proponents to understand how important COVID vaccines are in the fight against this pandemic. The COVID vaccine reluctance that is seen among many individuals who do not believe in the existence of the virus or the safety of the vaccines is another major problem.

As Kamal D Shah, Co-Founder, NephroPlus and a co-author of the study says, “It is very important for Dialysis Patients to know that they have a high risk of contracting this lethal virus and die if they don’t take the vaccine. That is what our study shows. We’re the first organisation to actually conduct such wide-scale studies to determine how dialysis patients respond to COVID-19 and how well they’re able to fare if infected.”

The team put together by NephroPlus is a highly professional unit, riding on expertise, passion for service and a fervent yearning for excellence. Besides Dr Vivekanand Jha and Kamal Shah, other members of the cutting-edge team of researchers include Dr Suresh Sankarasubbaiyan, Sr. VP, Clinical Affairs of NephroPlus.

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