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



Gallagher S, Howard S, Muldoon OT & Whittaker AC (2022) Social cohesion and loneliness are associated with the antibody response to COVID-19 vaccination. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 103, pp. 179-185.

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.

Antibody response; COVID-19; Loneliness; Stress; Social cohesion; SARS-CoV-2

Brain, Behavior, and Immunity: Volume 103

Publication date31/07/2022
Publication date online22/04/2022
Date accepted by journal20/04/2022
PublisherElsevier BV

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Professor Anna Whittaker

Professor Anna Whittaker

Professor of Behavioural Medicine, Sport