Nutritional adequacy may yet be able to enhance vaccine efficacy

News: Stress, or sleep deprivation, have a direct influence on a person’s immune system. The main reason behind this is micronutrient deficiency.

How does micronutrient deficiency occur?

It occurs when either the food one consumes does not provide the body with sufficient vitamins and minerals, or requires an increase during specific stages in life, such as during pregnancy and lactation. Hidden hunger or micronutrient deficiency is larger trouble, as it impacts silently among well-fed urban populations that may be consuming nutrient-empty calories. Thus, it weakens their immune system despite their not feeling ‘hungry’.

Read here: For a wider food basket

This is where the need for multi-micronutrient supplements occurs. A single micro-nutrient supplement a day could help correct this deficiency.

What is the status of hunger globally?

Hunger has been rising across the world. The number of people who did not receive adequate nutrition increased by 10 million from 2018 to 2019. It increased to 161 million in 2020, mainly because of pandemic-related crises.  According to the 2021 Global Nutrition Report, 149 million children under 5 are stunted, and 45 million are ‘wasted’, while 30% of women of child-bearing age suffer from anemia.

Read here: Global Hunger Index and India’s stand – Explained, pointwise

The Standing Together for Nutrition consortium estimated that over the next 3 years, the covid crisis would cause an additional 3.5 million children to suffer stunting, 13.6 million children to suffer ‘wasting’, and an additional 283,000 deaths related to malnutrition among under-5 in low- and middle-income countries.

Read here: India’s Malnutrition Challenge
What are the issues associated with micronutrient deficiency?

Studies show that micronutrient deficiencies reduce vaccine efficacy because of the weak immune system.

Another study, in 2020, showed that iron deficiency in infants resulted in a reduced response to diphtheria, pertussis, and pneumococcal vaccines. Infants with iron deficiency anaemia saw an improved response to the measles vaccine when supplementary iron was given at vaccination time.

Read here: Nutrition Security should be part of our covid response
What should be the way forward?

The present research is largely focused on elderly demographic groups in high-income countries. There is a need for more clinical research on how to make vaccines more effective for various age brackets in various other geographies.

Read here: relevance of Poshan Abhiyan for India’s health security

Source: This post is based on the article “Nutritional adequacy may yet be able to enhance vaccine efficacy” published in the Live Mint on 3rd March 2022.

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