Apart from older age and poor health conditions, obesity is another risk factor of a severe infection of coronavirus. But the experts have high hopes for the availability of coronavirus vaccine soon in the market. Meanwhile, another concern arises for the obese population of the US. Many health experts warn that the coronavirus vaccine will not be effective for people with obesity.
Previously some vaccines such as influenza or hepatitis B did more bad than good for obese people. These vaccines caused different complications including organ failure, in some cases even death. Not only these vaccines provided no immunity, but they also made those people even more susceptible to illness.
The novel coronavirus already wreaked havoc in the US. It infected 4.8 million individuals and caused nearly 158,000 fatalities. Experts fear that the coronavirus vaccine might prove ineffective to one of the most vulnerable populations of the US.
Dr. Chad Petit is an assistant professor at the department of biochemistry and molecular genetics in the University of Alabama, Birmingham, He said that the question is not if the coronavirus vaccine will work or not. Instead, they are questioning the efficacy of the vaccine.
He also said the vaccine might work for people but it might not have enough efficacy to provide protection.
According to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 42.4% adult population of the US is obese. Also, 18.5% of children in the US are overweight.
Obesity causes several health conditions over time including chronic health diseases. It also causes diseases like diabetes type 2, heart attack, stroke. In some cases, it even causes cancer.
When a foreign organism enters the body of a healthy individual, the boy activates the immune response. This immune response produces inflammation of the body which fights the infection. The body then turns off the inflammation once the infection leaves the body.
In the case of an obese individual, the body starts producing excessive inflammation during an immune response. This hinders the ability to fight off infections and makes a vaccine ineffective. Previously, experts observed a poor immune response produced in obese people after they received the vaccine dose.
According to a study conducted in 2017, the antibody response produced in the body was less in obese people as compared to people with a healthy weight. Another study showed similar results for the influenza vaccine.
Petit said that the inefficacy of the vaccine might be because of impaired T-cell immune response produced in the body. T-cells are a part of the immune response and these cells and the body produces these cells after a vaccine.
Although the effectivity of the vaccine is less in an obese person, it is still effective to some extent. In the situation of a pandemic, a vaccine is the only hope when the cases are rising every day. Petit also said that the obese people who got the dose of the influenza vaccine still had some level of protection against the virus. However, the protection was not as effective as in a person with normal weight.