Obesity may reduce effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines

Among participants who had no previous infection and received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, antibody levels among those who were severely obese were more than three times lower than those who were normal weight, according to a new report. study. File photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License picture

Obesity may complicate the course of COVID-19. Now a new study indicates that it may also reduce the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.

The researchers also found that the two vaccines used in their study elicited different levels of immune responses in severely obese people. They also found that a previous infection had an impact.

“These results provide new insights into the antibody response to SARS-CoV-2 vaccines in people with severe obesity and reinforce the importance of prioritizing and increasing vaccine uptake in this vulnerable group,” study co-author Volkan Demirhan Yumuk said in a press release. of the European Obesity Congress. Yumuk is a professor at Istanbul University in Turkey.

The study included 124 severely obese (mean age 42-63) and 166 normal-weight (mean age 39-47) adults in Turkey. The obese group had a body mass index (BMI) – a measurement based on height and weight – of over 40.

Participants received two doses of either the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or the CoronaVac vaccine made by the Chinese company Sinovac.

Four weeks after their second dose, blood samples were taken from the participants to measure their levels of antibodies against the coronavirus. In addition, their infection history was checked and 70 were found to have been infected with COVID-19 before.

Among participants who had no previous infection and who received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, antibody levels among those who were severely obese were more than three times lower than those who were normal weight, the report revealed. ‘study.

Among those who had no previous infection and received the CoronaVac vaccine, antibody levels in severely obese people were 27 times lower than those of normal weight.

According to the study, among those who were previously infected and received either Pfizer/BioNTech or CoronaVac, antibody levels were similar in severely obese and normal-weight people. The findings were to be presented at this week’s European Congress on Obesity in Maastricht, the Netherlands.

The findings have implications for the United States, where more than four in 10 people are obese, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 9% are seriously obese.

“Our study confirms that immune memory induced by prior infection alters how people respond to vaccination and indicates that two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine can generate significantly more antibodies than CoronaVac in people with severe obesity. , regardless of their history of infection,” Yumuk said. mentioned.

However, added Yumuk, “further research is needed to determine whether these higher antibody levels provide better protection against COVID-19.”

Data and conclusions presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information

For more information on COVID-19 vaccines, see the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Sara H. Byrd