Immunosuppression practices during the COVID-19 pandemic: A multinational survey study of transplant programs

Shaifali Sandal, Brian J. Boyarsky, Allan Massie, Teresa Po Yu Chiang, Dorry L. Segev, Marcelo Cantarovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been wide heterogeneity in the medical management of transplant recipients. We aimed to pragmatically capture immunosuppression practices globally following the early months of the pandemic. From June to September 2020, we surveyed 1267 physicians; 40.5% from 71 countries participated. Management decisions were made on a case-by-case basis by the majority (69.6%) of the programs. Overall, 76.8% performed ≥1 transplantation and many commented on avoiding high-risk transplantations. For induction, 26.5% were less likely to give T-cell depletion and 14.8% were more likely to give non-depleting agents. These practices varied by program-level factors more so than the COVID-19 burden. In patients with mild, moderate and severe COVID-19 symptoms 59.7%, 76.0%, and 79.5% decreased/stopped anti-metabolites, 23.2%, 45.4%, and 68.2% decreased/stopped calcineurin inhibitors, and 25.7%, 43.9%, and 57.7% decreased/stopped mTOR inhibitors, respectively. Also, 2.1%, 30.6%, and 46.0% increased steroids in patients with mild, moderate, and severe COVID-19 symptoms. For prevalent transplant recipients, some programs also reported decreasing/stopping steroids (1.8%), anti-metabolites (10.3%), calcineurin inhibitors (4.1%), and mTOR inhibitors (5.5%). Transplant programs changed immunosuppression practices but also avoided high-risk transplants and increased maintenance steroids. The long-term ramifications of these practices remain to be seen as programs face the aftermath of the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere14376
JournalClinical Transplantation
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • COVID-19 therapeutics
  • global survey
  • immunosuppression practices
  • induction
  • maintenance
  • outcomes
  • transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation


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