Acute kidney injury after COVID-19 vaccines: a real-world study

Ren Fail. 2022 Dec;44(1):958-965. doi: 10.1080/0886022X.2022.2081180.


Background: Acute kidney injury (AKI), a rare adverse event, cannot be ignored as millions of doses of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccinations. We aimed to investigate the occurrence of post-vaccine AKI reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

Methods: After data mapping from December 2020 to June 2021, we summarized demographic and clinical features and outcomes of reported cases from three vaccines (Pfizer-BNT, MODERNA, and JANSSEN). The Bayesian and nonproportional analyses explored the correlations between COVID-19 vaccines and AKI.

Results: We identified 1133 AKI cases. Pfizer-BNT appeared to have a stronger AKI correlation than MODERNA and JANSSEN, based on the highest reporting odds ratio (ROR = 2.15, 95% confidence interval = 1.97, 2.36). We observed the differences in ages, comorbidities, current illnesses, post-vaccine AKI causes, and time to AKI onset (all p<.05) among three vaccines. Most patients are elderly, with the highest age in MODERNA (68.41 years) and lowest in JANSSEN (59.75 years). Comorbidities were noticed in 58.83% of the cases and active infections in over 20% of cases. The leading cause of post-vaccine AKI was volume depletion (40.78%), followed by sepsis (11.74%). Patients in Pfizer-BNT had the worst outcome with 19.78% deaths, following 17.78% in MODERNA and 12.36% in JANSSEN (p = .217). The proportion of patients on dialysis was higher in JANSSEN than in Pfizer-BNT and MODERNA (14.61% vs. 6.54%, 10.62%, p = .008).

Conclusion: AKI could occur after the COVID-19 vaccines, predominantly in elderly patients. However, the causality needs further identification.

Keywords: COVID-19; VAERS database; acute kidney injury; vaccination.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury* / chemically induced
  • Acute Kidney Injury* / epidemiology
  • Aged
  • Bayes Theorem
  • COVID-19 Vaccines / adverse effects
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Vaccines* / adverse effects


  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Vaccines

Grants and funding

This work was supported by the Sansheng Yeehong TCP Research Foundation (G.C.).