Scientists are worried that the coronavirus vaccine won’t be effective on fat people.
According to the CDC, 71.6% of Americans aged 20 and over are overweight. The figure includes the 39.8% of Americans who are obese.
There is no magic pill able to make overweight people healthy. The only way for these people to regain their health is to lose their excess fat.
A coronavirus vaccine might not work as well in overweight people because their immune systems are weaker, scientists warn.
Experts around the world are scrambling to develop a jab that could protect people from Covid-19 and allow life to return to normal, with efforts on track for next year.
But now experts say obese people – one in three adults in Britain and 40 per cent of Americans – may not feel the benefits as much as their thinner peers.
Obesity already puts people at greater risk from Covid-19, with them twice as likely to be hospitalised and the risk of death almost 50 per cent higher.
This means millions of people who most need protection from the virus may not get it as well as others.
The flu jab doesn’t work as well in fat people, researchers have found in the past, and they fear the same could be true of any eventual vaccine against Covid-19.
This is because high levels of sugar in the blood, poor insulin control and swelling in the blood vessels – all of which are common in obese people – can stop immune cells from functioning as well as they should.
Researchers said this didn’t mean the vaccine wouldn’t work at all but that scientists should be aware it could be less effective.
The warning was made by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in a paper exploring the link from obesity to Covid-19 complications.
In the study the North Carolina team said obesity ‘has been shown to impair the development of immunological memory’.
They said that people with excess body fat had weaker immunity after a flu vaccine and were twice as likely to still get the flu or flu-like illness despite the jab.
Past research looking at antibodies – virus-fighting molecules made by the immune system – found that although they were similar 30 days after a flu jab, ‘wane significantly more in adults with obesity’ over the course of a year.
They also did not produce certain other types of immune cells, known as T cells, as effectively.
This impaired immune response could also be what makes obese people more likely to get severely ill or die if they catch Covid-19, the scientists added.
Their review found that people with a BMI over 30 were 113 per cent more likely to end up in hospital, 74 per cent more likely to need intensive care, and 48 per cent more likely to die than people of a healthy weight.
A separate study published by University College London scientists this month found that being obese could increase the chance of someone developing Covid-19 by up to 240 per cent – more than triple.
This, they suggested, may explain why Western countries such as the UK and US have been so devastated by the virus compared to Asian nations.
This isn’t likely to be used as an argument against the coronavirus vaccine. It’s more likely that it will be used as a defense of the eternal lockdown.
They can say that since the vaccine won’t protect everyone, that we have to continue doing the lockdown and social distancing forever, in order to save lives.
It’s what we’ve been told so far, more or less.
The lockdown was initially meant to last a few weeks and serve as a way to prevent too many infected people at once from overwhelming hospitals, so that everyone who needed treatment could get treatment. But it sneakily morphed into a “but we’ve always had a lockdown, what do you mean we have to lift it?” situation, where no one really remembers what life was like before the lockdown, or why the lockdown was introduced in the first place.
It’s a bit like the “three hour tour” of Gilligan’s Island.