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Loneliness affects the COVID-19 vaccine’s immune response, according to research

According to a 2022 study, social stress and loneliness can impair our immune system's reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Lower community cohesion has been linked to a poorer COVID-19 vaccine response, according to research. For the first time, groundbreaking research from the University of Limerick in Ireland has shown that social stress and loneliness can negatively affect our immune system’s response to the COVID-19 vaccine. In a discovery that is a first for the globe, UL researchers have discovered a link between reduced neighbourhood cohesion and the antibody response to the COVID-19 vaccines.

This is significant because the level of protection against hospitalisation and death from COVID-19 increases with the production of antibodies.

In a study that was published in the journal Brain, Behaviour, and Immunity, the research team showed that weaker social cohesion also made people feel more alone, and this was another factor in lowering COVID-19 vaccine responses.

The degree of social cohesiveness and solidarity among various community groups within a society, as well as the level of trust and connection between people and across community groups, is known as social cohesion.

Professor Stephen Gallagher, lead author and director of the study at UL, said that low social cohesion was “a social stressor and we have known for a long time that these psychosocial stressors can have damaging effects on immunity in general but also antibody responses following vaccination, which we have demonstrated previously. Thus, it made sense to explore antibody responses to COVID-19 vaccinations.”

In a discovery that is a first for the globe, UL researchers have discovered a link between reduced neighbourhood cohesion and the antibody response to the COVID-19 vaccines. This is significant because the level of protection against hospitalisation and death from COVID-19 increases with the production of antibodies.

In a study that was published in the journal Brain, Behaviour, and Immunity, the research team showed that weaker social cohesion also made people feel more alone, and this was another factor in lowering COVID-19 vaccine responses.

The degree of social cohesiveness and solidarity among various community groups within a society, as well as the level of trust and connection between people and across community groups, is known as social cohesion.

The authors discovered that lower social cohesion was associated with a reduced response to a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine; those who reported feeling less a part of their community, having less faith in their neighbours, and feeling unsupported or unrelated to their neighbours produced fewer antibodies than those who reported higher levels of social cohesion.

Additionally, those who reported weaker social cohesion also frequently reported feeling more alone, which in turn decreased their immune response.

The researchers looked at whether elements like social cohesion and loneliness had an adverse effect on people’s antibody responses to the COVID-19 vaccine using information from more than 600 participants in the UK’s Understanding Society COVID-19 antibody trial in March 2021.

Loneliness affects the COVID-19 vaccine’s immune response, according to research

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