People with substance use disorder have a higher risk of breakthrough Covid-19 infection

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  • A study assessed the risk of Covid-19 in vaccinated people with substance use disorder.
  • More than half a million vaccinated people took part in the study.
  • The participants with SUD used alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, opioids, or tobacco.

People with substance use disorder (SUD) have a higher risk of developing breakthrough Covid-19 infection, according to a new study.

The study published in World Psychiatry assessed fully vaccinated people with substance use disorder and their risk of contracting the virus.

The research included 579 372 people in the United States, 30 183 with a diagnosis of substance abuse disorder, and 549 189 who didn't have a substance disorder. The participants were all fully vaccinated between December 2020 and August 2021 and hadn't contracted Covid-19 before vaccination. 

The researchers assessed the risk, time trends, outcomes and disparities of Covid-19 breakthrough infection in fully vaccinated substance disorder patients starting 14 days after completion of vaccination. They had received a first and second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The participants in the study with substance use disorder abused one of the following: alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, opioids, or tobacco.

Increased Covid-19 risk

The study findings showed an increase in breakthrough Covid-19 infections in people with substance use disorder who were fully vaccinated.

The study results found that the risk of breakthrough infection ranged from 6.8% for tobacco use disorder to 7.8% for cannabis use disorder. The risk was significantly higher than the 3.6% in the non-substance disorder population.

In both those with substance use disorder and those who didn't have the disorder, the risk for breakthrough infection was higher in people who received the Pfizer than the Moderna vaccine.

"In our study, the overall risk of Covid-19 infection among vaccinated substance use disorders patients was low, highlighting the effectiveness and the need for full vaccination in this population. However, our findings document that this group remains a vulnerable one even after vaccination, confirming the importance for vaccinated patients with substance use disorders to continue to take protective preventive measures against the infection," the authors wrote.

*For more Covid-19 research, science and news, click here. You can also sign up for our Daily Dose newsletter here.

READ | Covid-19 vaccination reduces risk of hospitalisation for all virus variants, analysis reveals

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