Kidney transplant recipients were more careful than the general population during pandemic
During the first few waves of COVID-19, kidney transplant recipients in Norway engaged in less social interaction than the general population and strongly adhered to government advice, according to data published in Kidney Medicine.
Further, kidney transplant recipients reported feeling more concerned about infections despite living in a country with low infection rates.
“The need for life-long immunosuppression is a challenge for fighting viral infections and may pose a specific risk for a more severe course of COVID-19 in kidney transplant recipients,” Kjersti B. Blom, MD, from the department of nephrology at Oslo University Hospital in Norway, and colleagues wrote. They added, “Recently, studies published from countries with a high prevalence of COVID-19 support this theory, as they found increased incidence and a more severe disease course of COVID-19 in kidney transplant recipients than in the general population.”
In a prospective case-control study, researchers explored how the beginning of the pandemic affected the lives of 1,007 kidney transplant recipients in Norway. The recipients and 4,409 controls completed a questionnaire designed to determine everyday life, travel history, exposure to known COVID-19 cases and demographics. Using two-sided 0.05 significance levels, researchers conducted independent tests to compare the groups.
Survey results revealed kidney transplant recipients said they were more concerned about being infected with COVID-19 (27%) than the control group (7%). Kidney transplant recipients also took more precautions, such as not going to the grocery store (5.9% vs. 0.9%) and keeping at least 1-meter distance from other people (16.6% vs. 5.8%).
“Our findings suggest that even though kidney transplant recipients might be at increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and critical COVID-19 illness, Norwegian kidney transplant recipients as a group have been relatively ‘safe’ during the first wave of COVID-19,” Blom and colleagues wrote. “The more careful social behavior of the recipients, and the low incidence of COVID-19 in the general population, are probably important contributors to this finding.”