Kidney patients and Covid-19: Where are we now?

It has now been two years since the world became aware of the coronavirus and got bombarded with health protocols. Countries were scared and drastic measures started taking place to prevent the spread of the disease. Lockdowns, overcrowded hospitals and travel bans have become something of a norm, but how has this impacted the health of people with kidney disease?

Long-term effects of Covid-19

People with kidney disease and other chronic conditions are still at higher risk of severe illness.

Recent studies done in the United States have shown that patients who recovered from Covid-19 not only showed lingering lung problems but kidney problems as well.  [1]

Some patients who tested positive for Covid-19 have also shown post-covid conditions after recovering from the virus. These conditions, whether new, returning or ongoing health problems occur four or more weeks in patients after first being infected with the virus.  These post-covid conditions are being called long-covid or chronic covid.

Patients with long-covid have shown different combinations of the following symptoms: difficulty breathing, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, cough, chest or stomach pain, headache, heart palpitations, joint or muscle pain and sleep problems to name a few. Experts are still working to learn more about the long-term health effects associated with Covid-19. [2]

Should kidney patients get the booster vaccines?

Kidney patients who are on dialysis can have weaker immune systems, which makes it harder to fight infections. Patients who had a kidney transplant take immunosuppressive medicines that keep the immune system less active which in turn make it also harder to fight infections.

The World Health Organisation classified a new variant of Covid-19 as a variant of concern. This variant is omicron. In the US alone, omicron cases spread rapidly. Dialysis patients who are fully vaccinated produced excellent immunity, but the level of antibody protection falls with time and a booster shot is needed.

Patients who received the vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer are advised to get a booster shot 6 months after the second shot. Patients who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should also consider booster shots. Receiving a third immunization of mRNA vaccine raises the protective antibody levels in about half of transplant patients with low-level antibodies. [3]

Not only is this system time-efficient, but it is also more eco-friendly as less plastic is used, from the concentrate bags, as the concentrate is stored in large tanks from where it is connected to the central concentrate supply system.

Precautionary measures for kidney patients.

The same precautionary measures every person should take to prevent the spread of Covid-19 remain important for kidney patients. Kidney patients should avoid crowds as much as possible, keep a distance from other people in public as well as those who are sick. Wearing a mask in public and whenever between larger groups of people will help protect against contracting the virus. Washing of hands and using sanitiser is also important. Dialysis patients shouldn’t miss any of their treatments. It is therefore of utmost importance that all precautionary measures are taken to ensure that they do not get infected and in turn infect other kidney patients at dialysis centres as well. [4]

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