Beverley Turner and Owen Jones clash over covid vaccine
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Published in the Journal of Biological Rhythms, the study revealed that the response to the vaccine may be affected by circadian rhythms with antibody levels presenting higher in those who received the Covid-19 vaccine in the afternoon. Elizabeth Klerman, co-author of the study who works as a researcher in the Division of Neurophysiology, Sleep Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) believes the discovery may be key to optimising vaccine efficacy.
She said: “Our observational study provides proof of concept that time of day affects the immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, findings that may be relevant to optimising vaccine efficacy.
“Our internal 24-hour circadian clock regulates many aspects of physiology, including response to infectious diseases and vaccination.”
During the survey, blood samples were collected from asymptomatic hospital workers at the time of vaccination.
A model was created by the researchers to investigate the effect on antibody levels as a function of time of day of vaccination, vaccine type (Pfizer mRNA vaccine or AstraZeneca adenoviral vaccine), age, sex and number of days post-vaccination.
Researchers found that antibody responses were higher overall for all those vaccinated later in the day.
Antibody responses were also higher in those who received Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine, in women and in younger people, in addition to the effect of time of day of vaccination.
A study of elderly men who were vaccinated against influenza showed that they had higher antibody levels when they received the vaccine in the morning compared to the afternoon.
Ms Klerman said: “Trials have shown that administration of some chemotherapeutic agents at a specific time of day effectively targets cancer cells, but limits toxicity to other cells.”
However, the SARS-CoV-2 study contrasts with previous studies in older men that reported higher antibody levels after flu shots in the morning.
She said: “The SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and the influenza vaccine have different mechanisms of action from each other, and the antibody response can vary greatly depending on whether the immune system recognises the pathogen from previous infections, such as influenza, or is confronted with a new virus.”
Lack of data on participants’ medical and medication history, as well as their sleep and shift work patterns, were some of the limiting factors of the study and may have also influenced the response to the vaccine.
Ms Elizabeth said: “We need to replicate our results and better understand the underlying physiology of SARS-CoV-2 and the body’s response to the vaccine before we can recommend that people who want an additional vaccine booster, such as the elderly or immunocompromised, schedule their vaccination for the evening.
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“This research is the first step in demonstrating the importance of the timing of the response to the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.”
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega
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