Study: Adults with higher weight see faster decreases in COVID-19 antibodies after shots
Study: Adults with higher weight see faster decreases in COVID-19 antibodies after shots

Study: Adults with higher weight see faster decreases in COVID-19 antibodies after shots

Falling antibody levels may mean that obese adults have a greater need for a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose, according to a new study. File photo of Debbie Hill / UPI | License photo

May 19 (UPI) – Adults with higher weights may have a greater need COVID-19 vaccine booster doses because they experience sharper declines in virus antibody levels after receiving the first two shots than those who maintain a healthy weight, a study published Thursday showed.

Among 50 participants, those weighing 120 pounds or more had up to 20% lower virus antibody levels six months after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine than those weighing less, data released Thursday by the JAMA Network Open showed.

For every 100 pounds of weight gain, antibody levels dropped by a further 5% after six months, the researchers said.

Based on the results, “we recommend a booster dose for obese people about six months after the second dose,” said the study’s co-author Dr. Su Youn Nam to UPI in an Email.

But “the booster dose can be used later than six months after the second dose for young and middle-aged healthy people with low body weight,” said Nam, an assistant professor of internal medicine at Kyungpook National University in Daegu, South Korea.

The results are based on an analysis of antibody levels in 50 healthcare workers aged 25 to 45, who received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in South Korea.

Study participants weighed between 93 and 202 pounds, so while some were overweight, they were not obese, the researchers said.

Although the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine – which, along with Pfizer-BioNTech, is recommended for use in the United States – has a similar formulation, weight-related changes in antibody levels may not occur with it, Nam said.

However, a study published earlier this month showed that Pfizer-BioNTech and another, called CoronaVac, which is not approved for use in the United States, produced fewer antibodies in obese adults.

Earlier research has suggested that the flu shot is less effective in obese adults.

Nearly three in four adults in the United States are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Still, while two-thirds of the population has been fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, fewer than half of those eligible have received a booster dose, the agency reports.

“The participants in this study are lean, normal or overweight people, not obese,” Nam said.

“That’s why we can not comment for overweight people,” he said.

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