The Global Impact of COVID-19 on Solid Organ Transplantation: Two Years Into a Pandemic

Ailish Nimmo*, Dale Gardiner, Ines Ushiro-Lumb, Rommel Ravanan, John L.R. Forsythe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had a major global impact on solid organ transplantation (SOT). An estimated 16% global reduction in transplant activity occurred over the course of 2020, most markedly impacting kidney transplant and living donor programs, resulting in substantial knock-on effects for waitlisted patients. The increased severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection risk and excess deaths in transplant candidates has resulted in substantial effort to prioritize the safe restart and continuation of transplant programs over the second year of the pandemic, with transplant rates returning towards prepandemic levels. Over the past 2 y, COVID-19 mortality in SOT recipients has fallen from 20%-25% to 8%-10%, attributed to the increased and early availability of SARS-CoV-2 testing, adherence to nonpharmaceutical interventions, development of novel treatments, and vaccination. Despite these positive steps, transplant programs and SOT recipients continue to face challenges. Vaccine efficacy in SOT recipients is substantially lower than the general population and SOT recipients remain at an increased risk of adverse outcomes if they develop COVID-19. SOT recipients and transplant teams need to remain vigilant and ongoing adherence to nonpharmaceutical interventions appears essential. In this review, we summarize the global impact of COVID-19 on transplant activity, donor evaluation, and patient outcomes over the past 2 y, discuss the current strategies aimed at preventing and treating SARS-CoV-2 infection in SOT recipients, and based on lessons learnt from this pandemic, propose steps the transplant community could consider as preparation for future pandemics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1312-1329
Number of pages18
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes

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