Ever found yourself a tad too attached to one arm more than the other while getting vaccinated? Well, think again Einstein! A new study suggests that playing musical chairs with your appendagesmight result in a jacked-up immune response. You never knew body part bias could be this beneficial, huh?
The lab coat guys studied responses to the first two doses of Covid-19 vaccines and dare we say, the pendulum swingers had a small immunity spike, compared to the “stick to my guns, or well, arm” folks.
For those poor souls who can’t mount a decent vaccine response due to their age or health conditions, this tiny tango tactic might just do the trick. Except, for the majority of us who’ve had multiple shots in the arm or accidental rendezvous with Covid, arm juggling may not bring that much to the table.
Yet, if this crazy idea stands the test of more research, we could be witnessing a revamp in the whole multi-dose vaccine drill, including turning our rugrats into arm-swapping superheroes.
“I’m not setting the rulebook just yet,” confessed Dr. Marcel E. Curlin, infectious disease doctor extraordinaire at Oregon Health & Science University. After all, he is the chap who led this eccentric study.
But he doesn’t hold back on the punchline, “all things being equal, we should give arm switching a serious thought.”
One study conducted on mice (yes, we are indeed talking about arm swapping in rodents) found that a single lymph node could waltz away with strong immunity following vaccination. Call it rodent resilience!
“This may suggest that lymph nodes are real show-offs,” quipped Jennifer Gommerman, the queen of immunology at the University of Toronto, who had zero hand (or arm) in the new study.
She advises that chilling out a little longer between jabs – like the Canucks did with their Covid jabs – might be more beneficial than acting out a part in ‘The Arms Race’, an immunology adaptation.
Nonetheless, Dr. Gommerman insists on not brushing off these arm-switching strategies saying that in people with compromised immunity, “anything that boosts their defensive line-up is a keeper.”
In Dr. Curlin’s study, he and his lab rats kept a hawk-eye over antibody levels in 54 university staff members who were cleverly matched for age, gender, and time since vaccination. (Talk about attention to detail!)
These human lab mice were then split into two groups – those sticking to the same arm for the second jab and those who embraced the arm-switching strategy. And lo and behold, anyone who caught Covid during the study was given the boot!
Guess what the results had to say? Arm-switchers had their blood antibody levels leapfrog up to four times than their conservative counterparts. These ground-breaking results made a grand appearance in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.
And here’s the kicker – the immunity boost didn’t discriminate; it gave a one-two punch to both the original coronavirus and the Omicron variant, the new bad boy on the Covid block.
“It’s a slam dunk effect; statistically substantial and guess what, it sticks around for a while,” added the excited Dr. Curlin.
These results were a curveball compared to a German study last summer that suggested that staying loyal to one arm might yield a stronger immune response. But hey, they only peeked at the antibody levels just two weeks post-second dose.
In the same timeframe, even Dr. Curlin’s study found similar results. However, as time loped along, the alternators were seen sporting higher antibody levels.
When pinged about this, the German folks didn’t seem the least bit rattled.
“This switching thing was always at the back of my mind as a possibility. It’s intriguing that they found the toggle effect,” confessed Martina Sester, an immunologist from Saarland University in Germany.
Flipping between arms with every jab could be “one of the many tricks you could casually pull off to perhaps get a roaring immune response,” mused Dr. Sester.
One Arm or Two? How You Get Vaccinated May Make a Difference.