Alcoholism can reduce immune response post vaccine: Experts

There is no clinical evidence suggesting that alcohol consumption would reduce the effect of the COVID-19 vaccine. However, while controlled social drinking does not directly impact the immune response after vaccination, alcohol could impact the immune system, thereby reducing the effectiveness of the vaccine, say experts.
Representative Image
Representative Image


“Tuberculosis is one example of how alcohol consumption can reduce the immune response and make the disease worse. Though COVID or vaccination is not directly linked with alcohol, heavy drinking and alcoholism can affect the immune response,” said noted virologist Dr Jacob John.
Though there is no direct damage to lymph nodes – which respond to the vaccine – due to alcohol after vaccination, Dr John pointed out that liver damage contributes to the immune response. “As alcohol affects the liver that produces proteins and adds up to the overall immunity and strength of the body, its consumption and further damage to the liver will indirectly affect antibody production,” he said.
Though there is no particular direction on alcohol consumption and vaccination, public health expert Dr K Kolandaisamy opined that while antibody production is not hindered by alcohol, the immune response could be affected by it. “For instance, in case of the Russian vaccine, Sputnik, alcohol consumption in Russia is higher and thus the effectiveness is reduced,” he said.
“There is no specific duration of how long should an individual refrain from drinking before or after taking the vaccine. Immediately restricting the use of alcohol cannot lower the liver damage. Antibody response is there in every individual after vaccination, but the extent of the effectiveness depends on how strong the immune response is,” said Dr Sathyajit Mohapatra, lead researcher of Covaxin trials at SRM Medical College and Research Centre.

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