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Largest study to date reveals how COVID vaccines work with people of different sizes

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MIAMI – We are all different. Some are taller, shorter, bigger or smaller. Now the largest study to date reveals how COVID vaccines work with people of different sizes.

The researchers at Oxford University wanted to find out how well COVID-19 vaccines protect people of different weights from hospitalization and death. Dr. Carmen Piernas with the University of Oxford said, "The first key outcome is that vaccines are highly effective across all body weights and that is great news."

Scientists studied the medical records of more than 9 million people across the UK and looked at body mass index , or BMI, a measure of body fat based on height and weight. Dr. Piernas led the study and says not everyone is the same, "In the vaccinated people there are still cases and those cases is where we see an increased risk of severe COVID in the high weight and low body weight."

But why those groups are more affected is still a mystery. "There is something going on with underweight and the overweight people in terms of their immunity in terms of their response to the vaccines that we still don't understand very well, what  makes them at higher risk of severe COVID-19," said Dr. Piernas.

Researchers also discovered underweight people were less likely to get the shot, but don't know why. Dr. Piernas now hopes their findings will help governments target the most vulnerable. "For policy makers to look into perhaps thinking of different ways of prioritizing he  vaccines," she said.

And for everyday folks she offers this recommendation. "The take home messages are basically, take the vaccine if you can, especially if you're underweight and try to lose weight if you're overweight," she said.

Researchers say the next step is to look at the effectiveness of booster shots in people who are obese or underweight.

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