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Social cohesion and loneliness are associated with the antibody response to COVID-19 vaccination

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-02-17, 16:23 authored by STEPHEN GALLAGHERSTEPHEN GALLAGHER, Siobhan HowardSiobhan Howard, ORLA MULDOONORLA MULDOON, Anna C. Whittaker

Background: Recent research has suggested that psychosocial factors influence the antibody response to vaccine, including SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) vaccines. Here we investigated whether social cohesion and loneliness were predictive of antibody response to a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. We also tested if the association between social cohesion and antibody response was mediated by feelings of loneliness. 

Methods: Participants (N = 676) COVID-19 antibody data were extracted from March 2021 wave of the Understanding Society COVID-19 study from the UK. Relevant socio-demographics, health and lifestyle, loneliness, social cohesion indices were also used in a series of hierarchical linear regression to test our main hypotheses. 

Results: After controlling for covariates (e.g., age and chronic health conditions), lower social cohesion was associated with a lower antibody response. Further, the association between social cohesion and poorer antibody responses was mediated by loneliness; those reporting lower social cohesion also reported higher loneliness, which in turn was associated with lower antibody response. 

Conclusion: This study confirms that feelings of ‘being in it together’ relate to the strength of the antibody response to COVID-19 vaccination, emphasising the importance of the social cohesion agenda during the pandemic.



Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 103, pp.179-185



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