Don't drink and vax, say health officials

Just a few glasses of wine can significantly reduce efficacy of vaccine - but keeping to one glass may actually boost immune function.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,


“Heavy drinkers have many problems, and poor immune function is one of them,” according to a UK immunologist at the University of Edinburgh.

Testing the hypothesis that alcohol consumption could negatively impact the efficacy of coronavirus vaccines, Dr. Ronx Ikharia conducted an experiment that will be broadcast by the BBC this Wednesday (“The truth about boosting your immune system”), and discovered that drinking three glasses of wine reduced the activity of the body’s lymphocyte cells by as much as fifty percent.

Commenting on the experiment, immunologist Professor Sheena Cruickshank of the University of Manchester said the reduction in lymphocytes could lower the effectiveness of the body's immune response.

“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 said.

Exactly why this is so is unclear, but alcohol is believed to alter the composition of the microorganisms that live in the gut and play an important role in preventing the invasion of bacteria and viruses.

Pfizer has stated that there is currently no warning in place regarding alcohol consumption around the time its coronavirus vaccine is administered, but in Russia, the developer of the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine struck a more cautious note last month when a Russian health official attempted to warn of the dangers of mixing alcohol and vaccines.

“One glass of [wine] won’t hurt anyone, not even your immune system,” Alexander Gintsburg said in December, adding that it was “crucial” to refrain from alcohol for three days before and after each vaccine dose, and that this advice applied equally to all vaccines.

Gintsburg was responding to the head of Russia’s consumer health watchdog, Anna Popova, who urged those being vaccinated against coronavirus to give up alcohol for almost two months, from two weeks before the first injection for another six weeks.

“It’s a strain on the body,” Popova said. “If you want to be healthy and have a strong immune response, don’t drink alcohol.”

However, according to an article published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, "moderate consumption [of alcohol] seems to have a better impact on the immune system than excessive or absence of consumption." Moderate here is defined as 10g per day for women, and 20g for men - the equivalent of half a glass of wine a day for women, and a glass for men - and presumably most drinkers don't quite see that as moderate, hence Popova's stern warning.