Loneliness can affect your COVID-19 vaccine antibody response

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Scientists from the University of Limerick found for the first time that loneliness and social stresses can have a negative impact on our antibody response to COVID-19 vaccines.

They found that lower neighborhood cohesion is associated with antibody response to COVID-19 vaccines.

This is important as the more antibodies a person makes, the better the level of protection against hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

The research is published in Brain, Behavior and Immunity and was conducted by Professor Stephen Gallagher et al.

Social cohesion is the degree of social connectedness and solidarity among different community groups within a society, including levels of trust and connectedness between individuals and across community groups.

In the study, the team used data from over 600 people who took part in the UK’s Understanding Society COVID-19 antibody study in March 2021.

They examined whether factors such as social cohesion and loneliness had a negative impact on people’s antibody responses to the COVID-19 vaccine.

The authors found that lower social cohesion was predictive of a lower response to a single shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Those who felt less connected to their neighborhood had lower trust in their neighbors, and felt unsupported or less similar to their neighbors, made fewer antibodies in comparison to those who reported higher social cohesion.

In addition, those who reported lower social cohesion also tended to report that they felt lonelier, and this, in turn, reduced their antibody response.

These results highlight once again the relevance of public trust and social cohesion to the success of our pandemic response.

The team says loneliness was a big risk factor for several health conditions, with immune suppression a likely underlying pathway.

Thus, this study adds to the growing body of evidence linking loneliness to poor health.

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