It is already known that being overweight is an important risk factor for contracting the new coronavirus.
But some health experts fear that when a vaccine finally becomes available, it may not protect obese Americans and the general population.
Previous studies have shown that vaccinations for influenza and hepatitis B were less effective in obese adults, making them more susceptible to diseases and serious complications such as organ failure and death.
Researchers theorize that a COVD-19 vaccine may result in similar conditions, making one of the most at-risk populations vulnerable during the pandemic, which has already made 4.8 million sick and killed more than 158,000 in the US.
Previous studies have shown that vaccines for the fu and hepatitis B are less effective in obese adults than non-obese adults. Pictured: Brazilian pediatrician Monica Levi (right) receives an experimental coronavirus vaccine as part of a clinical trial in Sao Paulo, July 24
Some think this is because obese people have a reduced T cell response, a type of immune system cell, to vaccines, and obese people may not be as protected with a coronavirus vaccine. Pictured: A lab technician is holding a dose of a candidate vaccine against COVID-19 in Thailand on May 23
“It’s not about not working, it’s more about efficacy,” Dr. Chad Petit, an assistant professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular genetics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told DailyMail.com.
In other words, the vaccine [could work] but it [may not be] equally effective. ‘
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 42.4 percent of the U.S. adult population is obese, as are 18.5 percent of the U.S. children.
Obesity is known as a risk factor for several chronic health problems, including type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart attack, and even certain cancers.
Experts have warned that the proportion of obese adults will only increase as younger generations.
This also means that severely overweight Americans may take longer to go back to work or start their daily lives if they have weakened their immune systems.
Among those at a healthy weight, the immune system can trigger inflammation when it calls cells to fight bacteria, viruses and other pathogens, but it can also turn off inflammation.
However, obesity increases the immune response, leading to excessive inflammation, making the body less able to fight invaders.
In the past, poor immune responses from obese adults have been observed after vaccination.
A May 2017 study found that antibody responses to the hepatitis B vaccine were significantly reduced in obese people compared to non-obese people.
One second study that year found that obese adults who had been vaccinated against the flu were less likely than non-obese adults to get the flu or a flu-like illness.
“While it is not certain, it is believed that this may be due to a decreased T cell response to the vaccine,” said Petit.
“T cells play an important role in the adaptive immune response and are needed to protect against influenza.”
Another hypothesis is that obesity-related chronic inflammation leads to decreased production of macrophages, specialized cells that destroy harmful organisms.
Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious disease at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, says the needle size of the vaccine is important for obese people.
An immunization with a standard 1-inch needle may have a weaker effect for people with severe obesity than a shot with a longer needle.
“Doctors need to think very carefully about the needle length they should use, so that if they give an intramuscular injection, it can actually reach the muscle,” he told DailyMail.com.
He added that, despite the theories and fears, it is better and safer for obese people – and all Americans – to be vaccinated than to refrain from shots.
“The answer is a resounding” Yes “with an exclamation mark,” said Schaffner.
“We want to encourage everyone to get the flu shot. This winter, both Covid and flu are active. The flu vaccine isn’t perfect, but we know it can prevent infection as well. if not, it becomes milder. ‘
Petit agrees, saying that even if the vaccine doesn’t work as well, it’s better than nothing.
“Obese adults who received the flu vaccine in that study were still protected, only not as well as non-obese individuals.” he said.
“In other words, less protection is definitely better than no protection.”