Cardiovascular Medicine, Urology and Nephrology

SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccination is not associated with an elevated risk for glomerulonephritis

Dr. med. Matthias Diebold

University Hospital Basel 

The COVID-19 pandemic led to the development of mRNA-based vaccines and a worldwide vaccination campaign. Two of the most widely used mRNA-based vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna) demonstrated good safety profiles in large trials. However, soon after the start of the vaccination campaign, reports associating the vaccines with kidney diseases (glomerulonephritis) have emerged. What did that mean?

The goal of Matthias Diebold and his team was to investigate whether there was a causal relationship between the vaccines and the development of glomerulonephritis or just a temporal coincidence. The scientists analysed two connected studies. For the first study, they gathered data from all Swiss pathology institutes, which process kidney biopsies. By analysing the incidence data of four types of glomerulonephritis from 2015-2019, they calculated an expected incidence for the vaccination campaign 2021 and compared it with the observed incidence. For the second study, they included all patients who developed glomerulonephritis in 2021 and compared the risk to develop glomerulonephritis between vaccinated patients and those who were not vaccinated.

The observed incidence of the four types of glomerulonephritis during the vaccination campaign from January to August 2021 was not different from the expected incidence based on the years 2015 to 2019. Among the 111 patients with newly diagnosed glomerulonephritis between January and August 2021, the estimated risk for the development of new-onset biopsy-proven glomerulonephritis was not significantly different between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

Asserting itself against the many myths spread about the SARS-CoV-2 vaccination, this important study was able to show that vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 was not associated with new-onset glomerulonephritis.

Incidence of new onset glomerulonephritis after SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccination is not increased. Matthias Diebold, Eleonore Locher, Philipp Boide, Annette Enzler-Tschudy, Anna Faivre, Ingeborg Fischer, Birgit Helmchen, Helmut Hopfer, Min Jeong Kim, Solange Moll, Giliane Nanchen, Samuel Rotman, Charalampos Saganas, Harald Seeger, Andreas D. Kistler. Kidney Int. 2022 Dec;102(6):1409-1419