Smoking May Impair mRNA Vaccine Response

(Reuters) – Current smokers may be at risk for lower immune responses to some COVID-19 vaccines, Japanese researchers say, although more research is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn.

In a preliminary study of 378 healthcare workers, ages 32 to 54, the researchers analyzed levels of protective antibodies induced by the mRNA vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech, using blood samples obtained roughly three months after the second dose.

As has been found in previous studies, older participants had lower antibody levels. After taking age into account, the only risk factors for lower antibody levels were male sex and smoking – and the gender difference might be because smoking rates were twice as high in men as in women, the researchers speculate.

In a paper posted on medRxiv ahead of peer review, they report that antibody levels were higher in former smokers than in current smokers, which “suggests smoking cessation will reduce the risk of a lower antibody titer.”

SOURCE: medRxiv, online August 7, 2021.

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