AstraZeneca partners with major celebs Jeff Bridges, Kumail Nanjiani, Emily V. Gordon to tell immunocompromised community's story

Actor Kumail Nanjiani and his wife and Hollywood writer, Emily V. Gordon, along with Crystal King, a kidney transplant recipient, and Dorry Segev, M.D., Ph.D., a transplant surgeon, met on stage in September to launch a campaign geared at the awareness of the immunocompromised community during COVID-19.

In partnership with AstraZeneca, which markets a COVID vaccine and a treatment for immunocompromised patients, the "Up The Antibodies" campaign aims to educate the public around the difficulties of living with an immunocompromised system and the available monoclonal antibody options to help the prevention of contracting COVID-19.

The celebrity couple, who co-wrote the 2017 romantic comedy "The Big Sick," and King candidly spoke about the often-unsuccessful vaccination of this population—even after multiple boosters—and what other options are out there for their protection.

As most of the world is starting to put COVID-19 behind them, Gordon shared how she is unable to move forward with the masses because of her compromised immune system. In fact, Gordon talked about how it felt to be “reduced to an asterisk” as most of the people with non-compromised immune systems are now protected by vaccines.

Similarly, King talked about her fears upon discovering she had total kidney failure and would need an organ transplant during the pandemic.

Though Nanjiani, the recent co-star of Marvel’s "Eternals," is himself is not immunocompromised, he discussed the anxiety and responsibility he has, as a primary caregiver, in keeping his wife safe.

“Married to an immunocompromised person, I had to miss out on a lot of events over the past few years; my dad’s 70th birthday, reunions, weddings,” Nanjiani said. “That fear in the beginning of 2020 that everyone had—wearing gloves and washing packages—we’re still there, and everybody else has moved on.”

According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, immunocompromised adults account for 12.2% of COVD-19-related hospitalizations compared to an estimated 2.7% of the U.S. adult population.

“One statistic has stuck in my head,” said Segev. “If you compared transplant patients who were fully vaccinated against general population who were vaccinated, the risk of the transplant patient having a COVID-19-associated hospitalization or death is 485 times higher than in the general population.”

The webinar also featured the first showing of a powerful PSA starring Academy Award and Golden Globe winning actor Jeff Bridges, who was exposed to COVID-19 while receiving chemotherapy for cancer. Because the chemotherapy had greatly lowered his antibodies, he says that COVID-19 almost cost him his life.

AstraZeneca is collaborating with the Immune Deficiency Foundation and other organizations to ensure the campaign is built with and for the evolving needs of the immunocompromised patient community. The campaign website also includes information on long-acting monoclonal antibodies and essential resources, including a patient and doctor conversation guide.

The campaign launch comes on the heels of AstraZeneca being granted a positive review from Europe’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use to dispense Evusheld for patients who are infected with COVID-19 and are at risk for getting hospitalized.

Gordon closed out the online discussion in tears, saying she did not realize just how important the campaign was and noting that before the Up The Antibodies, “no one had addressed us.”

Just days after this talk, U.S. President Joe Biden declared the COVID pandemic “over,” though clearly it still isn’t for many patients in the country.