Barts-MS Journal Club: vaccine responses on ocrelizumab

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Dr Ide Smets discusses the Veloce study and its implications for managing MS.

Bar-Or et al. Effect of ocrelizumab on vaccine responses in patients with multiple sclerosis: The VELOCE study. Neurology October 06, 2020; 95 (14) 

Objective: The phase IIIb VELOCE study (NCT02545868) assessed responses to selected vaccines in ocrelizumab (OCR)-treated patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis.

Methods: Patients were randomized 2:1 into Group OCR (n=68; OCR 600mg); or Control (n=34;interferon-β or no disease-modifying therapy). All received tetanus toxoid (TT)-containing vaccine, Pneumovax® (23-PPV) and keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH). Group OCR was subdivided into OCR1 (n=33) and OCR2 (n=35) at randomization. OCR1 received Prevnar® (13-PCV) 4 weeks after 23-PPV; OCR2 and Control received influenza vaccine. Vaccinations started 12 weeks after OCR initiation (Group OCR) or on Day 1 (Control).

Results: Positive response rate to TT vaccine at 8 weeks was 23.9% in OCR vs 54.5% in Control. Positive response rate to ≥5 serotypes in 23-PPV at 4 weeks was 71.6% in OCR and 100% in Control. Prevnar® did not enhance response to pneumococcal serotypes in common with Pneumovax®. Humoral response to KLH was decreased in OCR vs Control. Seroprotection rates at 4 weeks against five influenza strains ranged from 55.6–80.0% in OCR2 and 75.0–97.0% in Control.

Conclusion: Peripherally B-cell depleted OCR recipients mounted attenuated humoral responses to clinically relevant vaccines and the neoantigen, KLH, suggesting use of standard non-live vaccines while on OCR treatment remains a consideration. For seasonal influenza vaccines, it is recommended to vaccinate patients on OCR, as a potentially protective humoral response, even if attenuated, can be expected. Classification of evidence This study provides Class II evidence confirming that the humoral response to non-live vaccines in patients with RMS following ocrelizumab treatment is attenuated compared with untreated or interferon-β–treated patients, though can still be expected to be protective.

CoI: multiple

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.

1 comment

  • As can be expected, there is no consensus on what to do with patients on OCR, RTX or Ofatumumab who turn CoVID 19 positive. Blunted vaccination responses or not, I suspect they all will be vaccinated with the mRNA vaccines. Thankfully, patients who are male and have a ton of co-morbid conditions and who are 65 and above are hardly on ANY DMTs, let alone OCR so can all breathe easy.

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