Background Available data show that COVID-19 vaccines may be less effective in immunocompromised populations, who are at increased risk of severe COVID-19. Objectives We conducted a systematic review of literature to assess immunogenicity, efficacy and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in immunocompromised populations. Data sources We searched Medline and Embase databases. Study eligibility criteria, patients, interventions We included studies of COVID-19 vaccines after complete vaccination in immunocompromised patients until 31 August 2021. Studies with <10 patients, safety data only and case series of breakthrough infections were excluded. Methods Risk of bias was assessed via the tool developed by the National Institutes of Health on interventional and observational studies. Immunogenicity was assessed through non-response rate defined as no anti-SARS-CoV-2 spike protein antibodies, efficacy and effectiveness by the relative reduction in risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection or COVID-19. We collected factors associated with the risk of non-response. We presented collected data by immunosuppression type. Results We screened 5917 results, included 162 studies. There were 157 on immunogenicity in 25 209 participants, including 7835 cancer or haematological malignancy patients (31.1%), 6302 patients on dialysis (25.0%), 5974 solid organ transplant recipients (23.7%) and 4680 immune-mediated disease patients (18.6%). Proportion of non-responders seemed higher among solid organ transplant recipients (range 18–100%) and patients with haematological malignancy (range 14–61%), and lower in patients with cancer (range 2–36%) and patients on dialysis (range 2–30%). Risk factors for non-response included older age, use of corticosteroids, immunosuppressive or anti-CD20 agent. Ten studies evaluated immunogenicity of an additional dose. Five studies evaluated vaccine efficacy or effectiveness: three on SARS-CoV-2 infection (range 71–81%), one on COVID-19-related hospitalization (62.9%), one had a too small sample size. Conclusions This systematic review highlights the risk of low immunogenicity of COVID-19 vaccines in immunocompromised populations, especially solid organ transplant recipients and patients with haematological malignancy. Despite lack of vaccine effectiveness data, enhanced vaccine regimens may be necessary.

  • All age groups
  • Vaccine/vaccination
  • COVID-19
  • Efficacy/effectiveness