Health + Wellness

People Undergoing MS Treatment Can Benefit From COVID Vaccines

New research may be a determining factor for Black multiple sclerosis (MS), who often experience different symptoms than those of other races, when deciding whether or not to get vaccinated.

RELATED: Why Do Black Patients Fare Worse When MS Strikes?

MS patients undergoing a treatment that depletes a type of immune cell that fuels MS attacks still have a strong response to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, a new study finds.

“The message from this study is clear — it is worthwhile for patients with MS receiving [anti-CD20] treatment to get a COVID-19 vaccine, which will prevent severe illness,” researcher E. John Wherry, director of the Penn Institute for Immunology, in Philadelphia says.

Anti-CD20 treatment depletes the B-cells that contribute to the MS attacks. B-cells and T-cells are types of white blood cells that make immune system antibodies.

For the study, Wherry’s team measured antibody and T-cell responses in 20 patients with MS who were getting anti-CD20 treatment.

They compared those patients with a group of healthy people.

All of the healthy participants had antibodies following the first dose of an mRNA vaccine (such as Moderna or Pfizer), and the level of antibody increased after the second dose. In patients with MS, however, the antibody response was more varied.

A month after their second vaccine dose, between 50% and 85% had developed

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