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Deb Gordon

Deborah D. Gordon has spent her career trying to level the playing field for healthcare consumers. She is co-founder of Umbra Health Advocacy, a marketplace for patient advocacy services, and co-director of the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates, the premiere membership organization for independent advocates. She is the author of "The Health Care Consumer's Manifesto: How to Get the Most for Your Money," based on consumer research she conducted as a senior fellow in the Harvard Kennedy School's Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government. Deb previously spent more than two decades in healthcare leadership roles, including chief marketing officer for a Massachusetts health plan and CEO of a health technology company. Deb is an Aspen Institute Health Innovators Fellow, an Eisenhower Fellow and a Boston Business Journal 40-under-40 honoree. Her contributions have appeared in JAMA Network Open, the Harvard Business Review blog, USA Today, RealClear Politics, The Hill and Managed Care Magazine. She earned a BA in bioethics from Brown University and an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School.

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Immunocompromised People and Covid-19 Clinical Trials

Immunocompromised People and Covid-19 Clinical Trials

Help fill the void in scientific knowledge about Covid in immunocompromised people

Your Health

Immunocompromised People and Covid-19 Clinical Trials infographic. Click image to view PDF.

If your immune system doesn’t work at full strength, you’re at higher risk for getting an infection or disease like Covid-19. It may not be your first thought to join a clinical trial that is studying new medicines or vaccines, but this type of research is key to protecting people who are immunocompromised.

What does “immunocompromised” mean?

Your immune system is designed to fight off infections and diseases. People who are “immunocompromised” have weakened immune systems. They may have a harder time fighting off viruses, bacteria and fungi that cause health problems.

What causes weakened immunity?

There are many reasons why your immune system might be weak, including:

  • Health conditions, such as
  • Primary immune deficiency
  • Blood cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma
  • Certain medicines or treatments, including chemotherapy
  • Organ or stem cell transplants
  • Age
  • Smoking

Covid-19 threats to people with weakened immune systems

  • People with weak immune systems are at greater risk of getting Covid-19. They’re also more likely to get sicker if they get infected.
  • Vaccines may not work as well in people whose immune systems are weak.
  • Viruses evolve. New strains, called variants, of Covid-19 keep emerging. Existing medicines and vaccines may not work as well on these new variants. So, people who are immunocompromised will be at even higher risk.

How to protect immunocompromised people from Covid-19

  • Healthy Habits – Improve air filtration and ventilation, spend time outdoors, increase space and distance from others when you can, wear masks and maintain hygiene practices.
  • Personal health – Be on the lookout for symptoms if you've been exposed and contact your healthcare provider (HCP) quickly if you test positive.
  • Research– To find new and innovative ways to protect people from Covid-19, researchers are studying new medicines and vaccines that may help immunocompromised people stay safe.
  • Vaccination – It’s extra important that people who are immunocompromised stay up to date with Covid-19 vaccines.
  • Treatment – If you’re immunocompromised and get Covid-19, there are treatments designed to make your case less severe.
  • Research – To find new ways to protect people from Covid-19, researchers are studying new medicines and vaccines that may help immunocompromised people stay safe.

Why should immunocompromised people participate in clinical trials?

  • Most previous research into Covid-19 treatments and vaccines did not include people who are immunocompromised.
  • By joining a Covid-19 study, you can help answer key questions about how to protect people with weakened immune systems.
  • You may get medicine that could help protect you from the effects of Covid-19.

Are clinical trials safe for immunocompromised people?

Most clinical trials are carefully monitored by an Institutional Review Board or IRB. IRBs protect participants’ rights and make sure research studies are ethical and appropriate.

How to find a clinical trial for Covid-19 treatment

NIAID Covid-19 Studies

Study Understanding Pre-Exposure pRophylaxis of NOVel Antibodies (SUPERNOVA)

A Nasal Treatment for Covid-19

A Study to Evaluate EDP-235 in Non-Hospitalized Adults with Covid-19 (SPRINT)

This educational resource was created with support from AstraZeneca.


AstraZeneca COVID-19 Clinical Trial Materials for Immunocompromised People

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