People suffering from obesity may find the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine less effective against Covid-19. According to Italian researchers, data showed that healthcare workers with obesity only produced about half the amount of antibodies in its response to a second dose of the vaccine as compared to those with a healthy body mass index. 

This could mean that obese individuals may need an additional booster dose of the vaccine brand to ensure adequate protection against the Covid-19.

While research suggests that obesity increases the risk of dying from Covid-19 by nearly 50%, a person with a body mass index over 30 also has a 113% chance of needing hospital treatment. 

In a report from The Guardian, studies reveal that obese individuals are highly likely to have underlying medical conditions that affect their immune system thus making it more difficult for them to fight against infections. Excess body fat causes metabolic changes in the body such as insulin resistance and inflammation brought on by heart disease or type 2 diabetes. These illnesses affect one’s immune system functions rendering them more susceptible to viral infections. 

An individual in a constant state of low-grade inflammation most certainly has weakened immune responses. This also includes the B and T cells responsible for triggering a protective response after a person has received a vaccination.  As it is, research data findings show that the flu vaccine is already only half as effective in overweight and obese individuals. 

Although this new study by Italian researchers has not yet been peer reviewed, concerns regarding the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines on obese recipients suggests this may have a similar effect. 

An Italian research team headed by Aldo Venuti of the Istituto Fisioterapici Ospitalieri in Rome assessed the response of antibodies after two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in a group study of 248 healthcare workers. In their findings, 99.5% of those who received the second dose developed an antibody response. However, in individuals who were overweight and obese, the antibody response was dulled.

Aldo suggests that it is mandatory to plan an efficient vaccination program for this subgroup of recipients since obesity is a major risk factor in mortality rates for patients with Covid-19. 

“If our data was to be confirmed by larger studies, giving obese people an extra dose of the vaccine or a higher dose could be options to be evaluated in this population”, Aldo said.

obesity-3217137_960_720 obesity infographic pixabay