Scientists have advised against alcohol consumption before or after having the Covid-19 vaccine, as alcohol can reduce the body's immune response to the vaccine. Therefore, experts recommend the body be as fit and healthy as possible when being administered the jab.
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More specifically, alcohol manipulates and changes the make-up of microorganisms that reside in the human gut. These microorganisms are vital for building immunity as they prevent bacteria and viruses infecting us. It is also essential that the gut remains in good condition, for the body’s uptake and response to the vaccine to be as effective as possible.
In an experiment conducted by Dr Ronx Ikharia, a doctor in A&E and the presenter for BBC’s The Truth About... Boosting Your Immune System, the team sampled blood from participants before and after the volunteer had drunk three glasses of prosecco. The experiment found that even three glasses lowered the number of lymphocyte cells by as much as half.
Lymphocytes form part of the white blood cells that help our bodies produce antibodies that attack and prevent viruses from multiplying and affecting us. Alcohol reduces the number of these in our bodies, so it becomes harder to fight viral infections.
Professor Sheena Cruickshank, an immunologist from the University of Manchester, told the Daily Mail, “You need to have your immune system working tip-top to have a good response to the vaccine, so if you're drinking the night before, or shortly afterwards, that's not going to help.”
She has advised that those who have a vaccine coming up or and those who have had the vaccine avoid drinking during this time to ensure optimum immunity building.
Between 20% and 40% of the white blood cells in the human body are made up of lymphocytes. Alcohol not only reduces the number of these but also slows the process which they follow to reproduce. Parts of the body, such as our spleens, tonsils, and lymph nodes, are the areas where the first immune responses occur. If their cell count is down, our initial immune responses will not be optimal.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also advised against alcohol consumption in general, as it will weaken immunity against the virus itself. They have also said to avoid alcohol as it affects the ability to socially distance and, for some, is a cue to start smoking, thus increasing infection risk.