The protection offered by Covid-19 vaccines is based on the antibody response induced by the different types of Covid-19 vaccines available. The level of antibodies varies from person to person and, as with other vaccines, several factors – some of them adjustable – can contribute to this variability.
An epidemiological investigation, coordinated by the Research Center on Public Health (CESP) of the Bicocca University of Milan in close collaboration with CoEHAR experts, studied the association between smoking status and changes in antibodies, i.e. immunoglobulins G, IgG, produced by the vaccine in response to Sars-Cov-2 infection.
The study was conducted on 162 health professionals who, on a voluntary basis, underwent monthly serological tests to assess the trend of the antibody level in the six months following vaccination with Pfizer mRNA vaccine. A third group of participants smoked regularly during the study period: in this group, 60 days after vaccination, researchers found a decrease in the level of antibodies faster than in non-smokers group.
“Vaccines have proven to be an effective weapon against Covid-19. We know that the immunological response is influenced by various factors, such as a previous SARS-CoV-2 infection, habits and lifestyles. We need further confirmation, but this study suggests that smoking contributes to weakening the immunoglobulin response with possible implications for the effectiveness of vaccination itself. And this may also be applied to other vaccines” —explains Pietro Ferrara, epidemiologist at the Bicocca CESP.
Prof. Riccardo Polosa, Founder of CoEHAR, looks at the direct implications for smokers: “Our researchers are evaluating how much smoking affects the progression of Covid-19 and the impact that Sars-Cov-2 has on smokers: it is clear that this is a significant relationship that we cannot underestimate”. To examine the antibody response to the vaccine, the volunteers underwent a series of serological tests to assess the level of antibodies and how they change over time. The results were analyzed according to age, gender and previous Covid-19 infection. Next, the researchers wondered whether smoking might play a role in the type and duration of the antibody response by analyzing the monthly antibody data. Serological analyses have shown that their level begins to decrease as early as the second month after vaccination much faster than smokers.
To confirm and reinforce this finding, researchers are currently conducting a review of the available literature on the response to Covid-19 vaccines. CoEHAR researchers are convinced that the results will be indispensable to increase knowledge on the mechanisms of response to Covid-19 vaccination, but above all to raise awareness on smoking cessation.