How many ofatumumab doses should I miss?


Barts-MS rose-tinted-odometer: ★★★ (It feels like a sky blue rainy Friday =  #87ceeb)

“Prof G how many of my monthly ofatumumab injections should I miss to guarantee that I will have an adequate antibody response to the COVID-19 vaccine?”

This was the gist of one of the direct messages I received on Twitter from a person with MS living in the US. 

I really don’t know. However, I have tried extrapolating data from the repopulation kinetics of ofatumumab given 3-monthly and the modelling data below on ocrelizumab and rituximab. For ocrelizumab and rituximab to have 80% confidence it requires at least 9 months from the last infusion to the first vaccination to have a >50% chance of seroconversion in response to an RNA-based COVID-19 vaccine. This equates to missing close to one dose of ocrelizumab or rituximab as you have to wait 9 months then have two vaccine doses and wait 3-4 weeks after your second or booster dose of vaccine before recommencing your 6-monthly infusions. i.e. ~11 months after your last infusion. Although Mike Famulare has treated rituximab and ocrelizumab as being equipotent in his modelling I suspect he is wrong and the gap for ocrelizumab may in fact have to be substantially longer. I predict that the average person will need to wait about 11-12 months post their last infusion of ocrelizumab to be confident of an antibody response.

As ofatumumab, is a lower dose anti-CD20, with more rapid B-cell repopulation kinetics than ocrelizumab or rituximab (see figure below). I estimate that you will need to wait about 6 months from your last injection before being vaccinated and you would then have two vaccine doses and wait 3-4 weeks after your second or booster dose of vaccine before recommending your monthly injections. i.e. ~8 months later. As this is all based on modelling I suspect in real life you will simply need to wait for peripheral blood B-cell reconstitution to occur before being vaccinated. The problem with the latter is how high do your peripheral B-cells have to be before being vaccinated; more than 3, 5, 10, 20, 50 or 80 CD19+ B-cells per mm3? Clearly, this is something that needs further study and I would urge Pharma or one of the MS groups interested in answering this question to do the study.  Let’s call it the ‘Peripheral B-cell Threshold Vaccine Study‘ or the ‘PerBeC Vax Study‘.

I want to reiterate that vaccine immunity is not only about B-cell and antibody immunity, T-cells also have an important role to play. Granted that if you don’t make antibodies it indicates that your follicular T-helper cells memory may not be that great, but this does not tell you about other CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell memory responses. Therefore, please be patient until these data emerge. 

My message remains the same; #GetVaccinatedASAP. During this phase of the pandemic, some immunity is better than no immunity. The risk associated with getting COVID-19, particularly if you are on a B-cell depleting agent, far outweighs the risks associated with vaccination. 

Seroconversion rate following complete COVID-19 vaccination vs. time since most recent b-cell depleting therapy (BCDT). Best fit, 80%, and 95% confidence interval shows logistic regresssion model of seroconversion probability over time.

Mike Famulare. Seroconversion after COVID-19 vaccination in patients using B-cell depleting therapies to manage multiple sclerosis increases with time between treatment and vaccination. Github v0.2 03 June 2021.

B-cell depleting therapies (BCDT) such as ocrelizumab and rituximab used for the management of multiple sclerosis are associated with reduced seroconversion rates following COVID-19 vaccination. In this note, I reanalyze data from the literature to examine how the probability of seroconversion depends on the time interval between the last BCDT dose and the first vaccine dose. While uncertainty is high due to limited data, the results show that the seroconversion probability increases with time. Under a Bayesian interpretation of logistic regression, I estimate with 80% confidence that it requires at least 9 months from last BCDT to first vaccination to have a >50% chance of seroconversion following complete mRNA vaccination, with large uncertainty on when higher confidence of seroconversion can be expected. Among subjects who do seroconvert following vaccination, anti-Spike IgG levels correlate with time since last BCDT. Limited data indicate that levels comparable with immunocompetent response can be achieved with intervals of 12 or more months between BCDT and vaccination. With combined data from multiple sources, I argue that time development of the seroconversion probability and antibody response parallels that of CD19+ and naive B-cell repopulation following BCDT, suggesting that monitoring B-cell repopulation will be useful at the individual level for optimizing vaccine response while maintaining adequate MS control.

Pharmacodynamic response showing dose-response depletion of CD19 B cells and repletion kinetics (safety population). The median time to repletion based on Kaplan-Meier estimates was ≈11 months for the ofatumumab 3 and 30 mg every 12 weeks groups and ≈14 months for the ofatumumab 60 mg every 12 and 4 weeks groups.

Bar-Or et al.Subcutaneous ofatumumab in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: The MIRROR study. Neurology. 2018 Sep 11;91(11):538. 

Objective: To assess dose-response effects of the anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody ofatumumab on efficacy and safety outcomes in a phase 2b double-blind study of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (RMS).

Methods: Patients (n = 232) were randomized to ofatumumab 3, 30, or 60 mg every 12 weeks, ofatumumab 60 mg every 4 weeks, or placebo for a 24-week treatment period, with a primary endpoint of cumulative number of new gadolinium-enhancing lesions (per brain MRI) at week 12. Relapses and safety/tolerability were assessed, and CD19+ peripheral blood B-lymphocyte counts measured. Safety monitoring continued weeks 24 to 48 with subsequent individualized follow-up evaluating B-cell repletion.

Results: The cumulative number of new lesions was reduced by 65% for all ofatumumab dose groups vs placebo (p < 0.001). Post hoc analysis (excluding weeks 1-4) estimated a ≥90% lesion reduction vs placebo (week 12) for all cumulative ofatumumab doses ≥30 mg/12 wk. Dose-dependent CD19 B-cell depletion was observed. Notably, complete depletion was not necessary for a robust treatment effect. The most common adverse event was injection-related reactions (52% ofatumumab, 15% placebo), mild to moderate severity in 97%, most commonly associated with the first dose and diminishing on subsequent dosing.

Conclusion: Imaging showed that all subcutaneous ofatumumab doses demonstrated efficacy (most robust: cumulative doses ≥30 mg/12 wk), with a safety profile consistent with existing ofatumumab data. This treatment effect also occurred with dosage regimens that only partially depleted circulating B cells.

Classification of evidence: This study provides Class I evidence that for patients with RMS, ofatumumab decreases the number of new MRI gadolinium-enhancing lesions 12 weeks after treatment initiation.

Trial registration: NCT01457924.

Conflicts of Interest

Preventive Neurology




General Disclaimer: Please note that the opinions expressed here are those of Professor Giovannoni and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry nor Barts Health NHS Trust.

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.


  • To help understand the approved dose is 20mg sc monthly, which is not on the above graph but in the US label it says

    Data from RMS clinical studies indicate B-cell recoveries over the LLN in at least 50% of patients in 24 to 36 weeks post-treatment discontinuation. Modelling and simulation for B-cell repletion corroborate these data, predicting median time to B-cell recovery of 40 weeks post-treatment discontinuation.

    For ocrelizumab three doses it is 62 weeks (3 doses) and 72 weeks (4 doses) for B cell recovery.

  • So are people on Ocrevus up the creek without a paddle if they catch Covid then? (even both does of vaccine?)Sure sounds like it.

    This India variant that is rocketing through the UK at the moment is worse than the Kent one isn’t it, and that killed about 100.000 people

  • “””I can’t begin to describe how angry I feel that a highly transmissible, more severe variant, with significant escape from vaccines was not only allowed to enter the country, but allowed to spread while our govt removed mitigations & minimised the risks posed by this”””

    highly transmissable, with SIGNIFICANT escape from vaccines not worry anyone then, even though Delta (India) is dominant circulating in the Uk (as per Public Health England)??

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