Data from a recent study suggests that the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine might be less effective for people that are obese. Researchers in Italy have discovered that, as compared to healthy individuals, obese healthcare workers were able to produce just about half the total amount of antibodies after being administered the second jab.
While it is relatively too early to know for sure what this discovery means for the overall efficacy of the vaccine, it may imply that individuals with obesity would need an additional booster jab to ensure adequate protected against the coronavirus.
Early research efforts have indicated that obesity, which is defined as a condition wherein an individual has a BMI (body mass index) of over 30, elevates the risk of death by Covid-19 by approximately 50%, while also raising the risk of COVID-19 related hospitalization by over 113%.
This might be linked to the fact that obese people often tend to suffer from other underlying medical conditions, ranging anywhere between type 2 diabetes or heart disease, which elevates their risk to falling severely ill from the coronavirus. Additionally, excess body fat has also been known to cause a spate of metabolic changes like inflammation and insulin resistance, which makes it more difficult for the body to effectively fight off infections.
Among obese people, this state of constant low-grade inflammation could also weaken immune responses, including the ones kicked off by their B and T cells, which are responsible for triggering a protective response after vaccination. Another separate study has showcased that flu vaccine is only 50% as effective in individuals with obesity as compared those who are not.
The novel study, which is yet to be peer reviewed, delivers the first ever direct proof that suggests that there is a similar issue with Covid-19 vaccines.
Aldo Venuti, from the Rome-based Istituti Fisioterapici Ospitalieri, along with his peers, studied the antibody response of the vaccine after administration of both Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine doses in over 248 healthcare workers.
It was seen that seven days following their vaccination, approximately 99.5% of test subjects had developed effective antibody response. The response was also greater than the one observed in people that have recovered from the coronavirus. However, this response was diluted in obese and overweight individuals.