Why obesity may limit COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness

Researchers said they're worried that a COVID-19 vaccine may be less effective in those with obesity, reports Nature. The concern stems from links researchers have seen between obesity and a dulled immune response to the virus.

People who are obese tend to have higher levels of cytokines, a group of immune-regulating proteins, according to Milena Sokolowska, MD, PhD, a researcher who studies immunology and respiratory diseases at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. In severe COVID-19 cases, healthy tissue can be damaged due to cytokines' immune response. This process can potentially hinder T-cells’ ability to kill infected cells. 

"I would say they are more exhausted at the start in their fight with infection," Dr. Sokolowska told Nature.

Donna Ryan, MD, an obesity researcher at Baton Rouge, La.-based Pennington Biomedical Research Center said experts are looking into ways to address potential problems related to vaccine efficacy and obesity. 

"Maybe three injections instead of two, maybe a larger dose — we shouldn't just throw our hands up and say it's not going to work," Dr. Ryan told Nature

More articles on public health:
Deaths of 2 residents at North Carolina nursing homes considered homicides, police say
Nevada reverses block on rapid COVID-19 tests in nursing homes
23 New York nursing homes fined $328K for COVID-19 safety violations


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