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Learning from the H1N1 experience, experts who were trying to develop an effective COVID-19 vaccine already knew that a novel virus, like SARS-CoV-2, could severely affect people with obesity or those obese. Those who have Body Mass Index (BMI) that are 30 and above had a higher risk of hospitalization and death from the virus.

Moreover, a 2017 study found that the flu shot was less effective in overweight and obese patients. Doctors are concerned that these findings could also be true to COVID-19. They ask whether the effectiveness of the available COVID-19 vaccine today will be equally effective as well to people with obesity or will it be lesser.

Mobile Vaccination Clinic Serves Vulnerable Communities Affected By COVID
(Photo : Getty Images)
FEDERAL WAY, WA - FEBRUARY 04: A patient receives a COVID-19 vaccination on February 4, 2021 in Federal Way, Washington. Swedish Medical Center held a mobile vaccination clinic at the Pacific Islander Community Association of Washington to serve racial and ethnic minority groups disproportionately affected by COVID-19. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Lesser Amount of B & T Immune Cells

According to The Libertarian Republic, 70% of Pfizer COVID-19 trial participants are overweight or obese, representing the current trend in the US population.

Since the pandemic had started in 2020, it has devastated the country for overweight and obese people. At first, doctors thought that younger patients had a lesser risk of having severe complications but they later found that those people with obesity under 50 negated the protective effect of being young.

The available COVID-19 vaccine is said to activate B and T immune cells, which are crucial for long-term protection against viruses. These immune cells destroy virus-related cells and prevent further replication of the virus and spread to other cells.

However, this may not be true to people with obesity as studies found that obesity negatively affects the function of the immune system. Multiple studies show that these people have a lower level of B and T cells after H1Na and alters the immune response of their body.

That is why obesity specialists wanted to know whether the COVID-19 vaccine will be as effective in patients with obesity as it is with other patients who do not have the condition.

ALSO READ: Did COVID-19 Vaccine Recipients Develop a Rare Blood Disorder?


Those With Obesity Should Still Get COVID-19 Vaccine

But even with this concern, experts still advise people with obesity and overweight patients to get the COVID-19 vaccine. For instance, those obese patients who receive the flu shot still get the flu but doctors have observed a 40% reduction in hospitalization and 82 % reduction in ICU admissions.

In an interview with OPB's Tiffany Camhi, professor Mark Slifka of Oregon Health and Science University said that the vaccine from Pfizer was well-designed that it included obese patients as participants in their study so that they would know how it would affect the patient population that needs it the most.

In other words, the findings of Pfizer and the FDA show that the vaccine is also effective in people with obesity and to the population as a whole. This means that researchers recognize these patients are more at risk of the infection and designed studies that reflect that.

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