obesity in the US
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Do Obesity Levels Threaten the Effectiveness of a Coronavirus Vaccine?

Obesity is now a serious health problem in the world particularly in the United States where nearly 45% of the Americans are Obese. Obesity is not only a problem of girth control but now the American Medical Association considers it a chronic disease. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has described obesity in the US as a national epidemic. It is not only a weight problem but it can create some serious issues for a person’s psychological, physical, and metabolic health.

In the United States, more than 4.6 million people are covid19 positive and 155,000 have died, but the hope that vaccines being developed for covid19 will help control the pandemic are fading as scientists from experience know that vaccines developed for influenza, tetanus, rabies, and hepatitis B are less effective in people who are obese than healthy people and there is little or no reason to believe that the case will be different for covid19 vaccines.

Raz Shaikh, an associate professor at the University of Carolina believes that a vaccine developed for coronavirus and is tailored for the obese is not possible and if a normal vaccine for covid19 work on obese people, his prediction is no. At least 107 million people are affected by obesity in the US and if the coronavirus vaccine delivers weak immunity for the obese then the ability of these people to work, resume daily life, and care for their families will be curtailed.

CDC warned that people with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or more, which is about 9% of the American population, were the most vulnerable to the coronavirus. William Maher, an American comedian and a television host, believes that obesity in the US is their top health crisis and has a major impact on the nation’s fight against the pandemic. In March a study conducted in China discovered that obese Chinese patients who were covid19 positive were more likely to die of the disease than people who were healthy or leaner. This study predicted a perilous future for the United States as it has one of the most obese populations in the world.

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Scientists have known for long that obese patients are at significant risk of dying from cancer or cardiovascular diseases. But recently they have discovered that obesity also has an impact on the body’s immune response, due to which obese people are at a greater risk of infection from pathogens such as covid19 or influenza. It is also known that obesity makes it difficult for influenza patients to get vaccinated, the question is that will it also affect covid19 vaccination.

How does a healthy immune system work? A healthy immune system turns the inflammation on and off according to the needs, it also sends out proteins and calls on white blood cells to fight infections, vaccines make use of that inflammatory response. However, the blood tests of people with metabolic risk factors such as elevated sugar levels and high blood pressure and people who are obese show a state of chronic mild inflammation in which the inflammation when turned on stays on. Chronic inflammation interferes with the immune response to vaccines, which makes people vulnerable to illnesses that were preventable after vaccination.

Historically, in drug trials, people with high BMIs were not included because they might mask the results due to their chronic conditions. However, in the clinical trials being conducted for coronavirus vaccine people with obesity will be included as they do not have a BMI exclusion. Although obesity is not specifically focused on, but the BMI of the participants will be noted and the results will be evaluated.