As the Covid-19 vaccine efforts escalate, providers are seeing a significant shift to younger populations for COVID-19 related hospitalizations. According to CDC data, 80 percent of older populations aged over 65 have received one shot and 63.7 percent are fully vaccinated. The mysterious virus which was first recognized in the UK, the B.1.1.7 strain now dominates coronavirus diagnoses in countries such as England and Israel and in the United States as well. The virus is both more contagious and more virulent than Covid-19. The successful vaccination of older populations combined with proliferation of the B.1.1.7 variant are leading to patients less than 50 years of age presenting to our ER’s and hospitals with disease.
“The B.1.1.7 variant has mutations that allow it to bind more” to cells, said Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a CNN medical analyst and professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University. “Think of this mutation as making the virus stickier.”
“There is little difference in the way the (B.1.1.7) spike protein holds that makes it stick to your cells a little more easily,” said emergency physician Dr. Megan Ranney, director of the Brown-Lifespan Center for Digital Health.
Obesity is a well known factor in progressive disease and mortality with COVID -19. A recent study in Italy notes that obesity may also reduce the immune response to covid-19 disease vaccines, along with other factors like sex and age. The study measured antibody titer at day 7 after vaccination among 247 healthcare workers.
“BMI also showed a strong relationship with the vaccine’s ability to induce an efficient humoral response. Lean and normal-weight subjects (BMI <25) showed higher antibody titers compared to overweight or obese subjects. This association persisted even when adjusted for age.” – by Dr Liji Thomas, MD Medical Life Sciences News.
The shift to younger populations, proliferation of the B.1.1.7 variants, combined with obesity risk for more severe disease and reduced immune response to vaccination makes 2021 a critical time to begin helping our younger patients prevent and reduce obesity risk. For a more in depth review on the link between obesity and increased risk of COVID-19 mortality, click here to review our recent webinar on the topic.