Several concerns have been raised about the use of immunodepleting agents including alemtuzumab, cladribine and CD20-depleting antibodies in people with multiple sclerosis (pwMS) during the coronavirus disease (COVID) 2019 pandemic. As the end of the pandemic is not yet in sight, vaccination against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2) may be an elegant strategy to overcome the potential hazards associated with initiating and continuing treatment with immune-depleting agents. In this review, we summarize the immunological effects of immune-depleting therapy and underlying considerations for the hitherto existing recommendations that suggest a restricted use of immune-deleting therapies during the pandemic. Moreover, we critically discuss open questions regarding vaccination in general and against SARS-CoV-2 in pwMS.
Keywords: CD20 depletion; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; alemtuzumab; cladribine; disease-modifying drugs; immune-depleting therapies; multiple sclerosis; vaccination.