Being overweight is a chronic disease that affects over 55% of the adult population, making obesity an international epidemic. Identified in Wuhan, China, in 2019, Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is spread worldwide, threatening the human race. Obesity weakens the immune system the same way as COVID-19 does. Evidence shows that obese people have a higher chance of contracting COVID, hospitalization, and requiring intubation/ventilator; they are less responsive to vaccination and therapy, get severely ill, and die from it.
In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and the prevalence of obesity, Mexico Bariatric Center has launched a series of webinars on the collision of COVID-19 & Obesity.
As two pandemics collide, it is becoming increasingly urgent for the population to drop pounds and get healthy to lower vulnerability to this virus. Mexico Bariatric Center® has been at the forefront of the fight against obesity since 2012. MBC has given uninsured and underinsured patients worldwide a second chance with life-changing surgical treatment to get a renewed life!
Coronavirus disease 2019 is a pathogen believed to be first transmitted from an animal to a host animal and then a human. Presumably, this virus then jumped from human to human in Wuhan, China. Novel Coronavirus is airborne; it can spread when a person coughs or sneezes in the air, though the droplets from the cough and sneeze only travel a few short feet before dropping to the ground.
New variant strains of coronavirus from the U.K. and South Africa are emerging that are more infectious than the original one. These variants with a mutation are circulating globally and may resist antibodies!
People infected but do not have symptoms (asymptomatic) spread the virus to others contributing to the spike in the cases. Coronavirus’s signs and symptoms include sore throat, cough, fever, shortness of breath, muscle aches, loss of taste/smell, diarrhea, and headache. Please call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.
Coronavirus’s disproportional socioeconomic impact is influenced by race, ethnicity, and income. The United States has become a hot spot for COVID-19, with 25% of the world’s cases. Currently, in the United States alone, there are over 14 million confirmed cases with death tolls approaching 300,000 – a mortality rate of 2% [according to WHO & CDC].
The spread of the contagious Delta variant is causing new COVID infections including breakthrough cases among fully vaccinated individuals. Recent data shows that breakthrough cases comprise 20% of the instances, 13% of hospitalizations, and 8% of deaths.
Dangers of COVID-19
Even though COVID-19 is considered a pulmonary disease, it is also a vascular disease. A study published in 2023 has identified that young people (25 to 44 years old) are more prone (30% more likely) to experience heart attacks after exposure to this viral Infection.
Are you at a higher exposure to COVID-19 than others? First responders, essential workers, and people who work in nursing and human care facilities are exposed to the virus, making them more prone to get ill. Here are the significant risk factors of individuals who have a higher chance of contracting this disease;
- People 65 years or older
- Chronic lung disease
- Heart conditions
- Kidney diseases
- Liver diseases
It is unlikely that a single factor is entirely responsible for the evolution of severe Coronavirus. Recently, scientists also found that genetic predispositions are also a factor in getting critical COVID-19 infections.
Obesity is when a person carries an excessive weight that negatively impacts their health. Excess adipose tissue mass in obese patients alters the body’s immunological response causing health problems. Medical issues relating to obesity:
- Diabetes Type 2 (T2DM)
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
- CHF (Congestive Heart Failure)
- HBP (High Blood Pressure)
- NASH (Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis)
- Hypoventilation Syndrome
- ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome)
A high BMI, generally beyond 30, may suggest a person is corpulent. A BMI (Body Mass Index) can measure if a person is overweight based on height and weight.
- BMI of 20 to 24.9 is Normal
- BMI of 25 to 29.9 is Overweight
- BMI of 30+ is Obese
- BMI of 40+ is Morbidly Obese
Obesity & Insulin, Leptin, and Vaccine Resistance
Weight gain is associated with alterations in fat cells (Adipose Tissues), causing metabolic dysfunction. Adipose tissue inflammation and changes in its structural composition can cause individuals to become unresponsive to insulin, leptin, therapies, and vaccines.
- Insulin Resistance (IR): As the body fat content increases, there is less insulin sensitivity which can precede diabetes. The cells cannot use the glucose in your bloodstream for energy, and the sugar level in the blood increases.
- Leptin Resistance: A heavy person’s body does not respond to the high Leptin hormones in the blood, adversely affecting satiety and feeling full.
- Vaccine Resistance: Diminished immune response to pathogens has been observed in obese people making vaccines less effective. That could be the case for Coronavirus vaccination efficacy as well.
People with obesity and comorbidities showing less robust response to the vaccines. About 50% of breakthrough cases are in obese patients with underlying chronic medical conditions.
Association Between BMI and Critical Forms of COVID-19
There is overwhelming evidence that obesity impairs immunological responses similar to Coronavirus. That is why obesity is a significant factor in the initiation, severity, and outcome of COVID-19. To make matters worse, the COVID therapeutic and vaccine may not be as effective in obese individuals.
It is harder to tell if obese people have caught Covid-19; the doctors will have trouble diagnosing them due to their weight and positioning. They may also need an extra oxygen supply tube.
Obese individuals have low oxygen levels and lung breathing problems, and SARS-CoV-2 infection can occur airborne. A weak lung can increase the chance of getting Covid-19 and mortality due to its inability to fight the virus.
- 37.7% of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 are obese, and 27.4% are overweight
- Obesity causes more chance of occurrence of death or ICU admission
Severe Obesity & COVID-19
Morbid obesity (BMI > 40) affects more than 10% of the U.S. population. COVID-19 favors pulmonary embolism, especially in the super-obese. Difficulties with Severe Obese Patients:
- The intubation, extubation, in-live IV Central
- Risk of thromboembolic and pressure ulcers
- Diagnostic equipment like MRI and scanners
- Challenges in ICU units as it is not designed to accommodate large patients
Super-obese patient management is challenging for healthcare professionals (HCPs) on the front line.
How COVID-19 Increased Obesity in Countries
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a number of effects on people’s health, including an increase in obesity in some countries. This is likely due to a combination of factors, including changes in people’s daily routines and diets due to lockdowns and other measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Many people have been spending more time at home, which has led to a decrease in physical activity and an increase in sedentary behavior.
In addition, the availability and affordability of certain foods, such as processed and high-calorie snacks, may have increased during the pandemic, leading to an increase in caloric intake and unhealthy countries. These changes in behavior and diet can contribute to weight gain and obesity.
Actions to Take
Obesity and its health problems are directly correlated with a heightened risk of catching COVID-19. So what steps do you need to take?
- Create a Routine
- Active Self-Quarantine: Who said self-quarantine needs to be boring? There are plenty of things you can do that are fun and maintain the best social distancing practices. Go on walks, runs, hikes, etc.
- Wear Personal Protective Equipment
- Join a Support Group on Facebook with people who have similar interests and motivations.
How to Prevent COVID-19 and Reduce Your Risk?
- Keep a good distance from everyone when going out
- Eat Healthily and have proper nutrition
- Exercise frequently to have a stronger immune system
- Clean your house frequently to prevent the spread of COVID-19
- Wash your hands with soap often. Use the 20 seconds rule
- Wear a mask and gloves when going out
- Stay at home as much as you can
Cure for the Two Pandemics?
Weight loss surgery combined with a proper diet and exercise is a healthy, swift, and long-term solution. Unfortunately, the out-of-pocket cost of gastric sleeve and gastric bypass surgeries in developed countries, such as the United States and Canada, without insurance coverage is out of reach.
Obesity cure costs a lot in the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Medical Tourism has been a game-changer as patients beyond borders can receive low-cost, high-quality healthcare services abroad.
The Novel Coronavirus epidemic has stopped most of the global travel and halted most medical tourism. With the COVID-19 pandemic, there is nowhere to go besides Mexico. The vaccine brings back hopes for this industry to revive by mid-2021.
read about: The Personal Costs of Obesity
Early detection, immunization, therapeutic medications, and widespread and aggressive testing are needed to overcome the Coronavirus pandemic. South Korea has the lowest death rate since they follow these protocols and lessons learned from SARS and MERS outbreaks.
There are very few drugs that prevent people from getting severely sick. However, the medication to treat this plague consists of antibody, antiviral, and steroid therapy. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved VEKLURY® (Remdesivir) for treating COVID-19 patients. Remdesivir is the most promising antibody therapy for Coronavirus.
Several countries are developing vaccines in a global race between infections and injections. China is producing more than 20 vaccines; several are approved and exported abroad, like CoronaVac, developed by Sinovac Biotech. Russia’s Sputnik V is another shot in the dark. The American Warp Speed mRNA (messenger RNA) coronavirus vaccines are administered in two doses:
- Pfizer/BioNTech (Authorized in the U.K., U.S., and Canada)
FDA and CDC both approved the use of Pfizer Inc. (PFE) /BioNTech SE-ADR (BNTX) vaccine recently [update 8/22/2021 – Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine named Comirnaty is fully FDA approved]. Moderna (MRNA) has submitted its vaccine (mRNA-1273) to the FDA and obtained emergency authorization. The booster shots are in the process of getting authorized for older adults and people with weak immune systems.
There is no border to the pandemic, and there should not be any border for vaccines. No one is safe until the world is safe!
Novavax vaccine (brand names: Nuvaxovid and Covovax) contains the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and Matrix-M adjuvant. Matrix M adjuvants are extracts from the bark of the Quillaja Saponaria (Soapbark) tree that is found in Chile.
Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective, although it varies depending on race, age, and ethnicity. Its usefulness is as follows:
- White people: 95% effective
- Black people: 100% effective
- All others, including American Indians, Asians, and Pacific Islanders: were 89% effective
- People over 55: 94% effective
- People with underlying conditions: 95% effective
The vaccination efficacy is still not apparent for kids under 16, pregnant women, people who suffer from allergies or obesity, and those who have caught the infection.
Tracking Vaccine Projects
There are many vaccine projects, each at a different stage. Most noteworthy is AstraZeneca/Oxford, which has signed a deal with Russia to develop vaccines – using DNA instead of mRNA. Also, Johnson & Johnson is testing the single dose of a Covid vaccine and should be ready for FDA approval by early 2021.
mRNA groundbreaking shots in the upper arm muscle instruct our cells to make harmless “spike protein.” Our immune system sees the protein as a foreign body and starts making antibodies.
We are at critical crossroads as countries across the globe, including the United States, are experiencing record-high coronavirus outbreaks. The vaccination shows us the end of the tunnel, but we are still in the tunnel. The scars of this catastrophe and its economic impact will linger long after the COVID pandemic ends.
We must take precautions to minimize this dangerous disease and care for our health to prevent things from worsening. Obesity is one of the fatal factors to fall into the COVID and COVID variant deadly trap. To cure your weight problem forever, acquire the bariatric tool today! Mexico Bariatric Center is here to help you in the once-in-a-lifetime global health emergency. MBC offers VIP, safe, affordable all-inclusive weight loss surgeries in Tijuana and Guadalajara.
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- When Two Panademics Meet: Why Is Obesity Associated with Increased COVID-19 Mortality?
- What is the new Covid strain – and will vaccines work against it?
- First Cases of Virulent New COVID-19 Strain in the U.S.
- Cleveland Clinic Research Shows Bariatric Surgery May Reduce Severity of COVID-19 in Patients with Obesity