COVID vaccine saves lives regardless of body weight | Health & Fitness

Amy Norton

TUESDAY, July 5, 2022 (HealthDay News) — vaccination against covid it is highly protective against serious illness in people of all body weights, new British research finds.

The study of more than 9 million adults found that those who had received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were strongly protected against hospitalization or death from the disease. And the effectiveness was just as good for obese people as it was for those at a healthy weight.

That had been a concern, as there is evidence that the flu vaccine is less effective for people with obesity, said lead researcher Carmen Piernas-Sanchez, from the University of Oxford.

“This led us to investigate COVID vaccines,” he explained.

Based on the findings, the vaccines are equally effective for people who are normal weight, overweight or obese. But, Piernas-Sanchez said, more research is still needed to understand why obesity seems to make people more vulnerable to getting seriously ill when they get COVID.

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For now, she and other experts stressed the importance of vaccination, including reinforcement shots.

“Vaccines aren’t perfect, and you can still get COVID. But they are very effective against serious illnesses,” said Dr. Aaron Glatt, chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau, in Oceanside, N.Y.

The latest study looked at the pre-Omicron era, but Glatt said the vaccines remain highly effective against severe COVID.

Dr. Lalitha Parameswaran, an infectious disease specialist at NYU Langone Hospital in Brooklyn, agreed.

“Vaccination remains the most important method of preventing serious illness and death from COVID, and this has remained in the omicron time,” said Parameswaran.

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Booster doses, he added, offer protection against mild to moderate illness and “further enhance the protective response to severe illness.”

The findings, recently published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology daily, they are based on medical records of more than 9 million British adults. Between December 2020 and November 2021, more than 566,000 people tested positive for COVID; some 33,800 were hospitalized, while just under 14,400 died.

Overall, the study found, people who received two doses of any UK-administered COVID vaccine (AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna) were much less likely to get seriously ill.

Vaccination reduced the risk of hospitalization by nearly 70% among overweight, obese and normal-weight adults, compared to their unvaccinated counterparts. There was a similar reduction in the risk of dying from COVID-19.

People who were underweight showed slightly less protection: Vaccination cut the risk of being hospitalized for COVID in half, and the risk of dying by 40%, the researchers found.

It’s not clear why, according to Piernas-Sanchez. But he noted that it’s possible that some underweight people had health problems, such as cancerthat reduce the immune response to vaccines.

The researchers also found that when vaccinated people contracted COVID, those who were obese faced a higher risk of ending up in the hospital or dying than people in the normal weight range.

It has been recognized since the beginning of the pandemic that obese people are at increased risk of severe COVID-19. Experts believe there are several reasons: Obesity can impair immune function and make people more prone to coagulation and respiratory problems, for example.

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“Given the high effectiveness of the vaccines, the absolute number of severe cases was massively reduced,” Piernas-Sánchez said. “But among the less severe cases that are occurring, people with high or low body weight are at higher risk, compared to people with a healthy weight.”

Everything suggests that achieving a healthy weight will help protect people from severe COVID-19, Piernas-Sanchez said.

What about booster shots? In this study, few people of any weight became seriously ill after a booster dose of COVID.

But, the researchers said, more study is needed to know whether booster doses eliminate the excess risk associated with obesity.

That said, all three experts advised people to get their recommended booster doses. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a second booster shot for adults over age 50 and some younger people who are immunocompromised.

The study also found that underweight adults were less likely than everyone else to be vaccinated: About a third were unvaccinated as of November 2021.

Once again, the reasons are unknown. But the researchers speculate that public health messages, which emphasize the risks related to obesityit might give skinny people the idea that they have nothing to worry about.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about obesity and covid.

SOURCES: Carmen Piernas-Sanchez, PhD, MSc, research professor, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, UK; Aaron Glatt, MD, chief, hospital and infectious disease epidemiologist, Mount Sinai South Nassau, Oceanside, NY, and professor of medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City; Lalitha Parameswaran, MD, MPH, infectious disease specialist, NYU Langone Hospital Brooklyn, and clinical associate professor, NYU Grossman School of Medicine, New York City; The Lancet Diabetes and EndocrinologyJune 30, 2022, online

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