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University of Bayreuth, Press Release No. 169/2021 - 23 November 2021

New study recommends booster vaccination for older people with diabetes

Prof. Dr Othmar Moser, head of the division Exercise Physiology & Metabolism at the University of Bayreuth, has been awarded the 2021 Langerhans Prize of the Austrian Diabetes Society (OEDG). On 20 November 2021, he accepted the prize of € 10,000 at the OEDG annual general meeting in Salzburg. Recently, he and his research team studied the immune response of people with diabetes after COVID-19 vaccination. The results underline the importance of booster vaccinations for older people with diabetes, especially in the case of impaired kidney function.

Award ceremonies of the Austrian Diabetes Society in Salzburg. Right: Prof. Dr. Othmar Moser, University of Bayreuth. (c) Gerd Koehler.

The new study, in which the University of Bayreuth was prominently involved, is based on antibody data from 150 people with diabetes mellitus type 1 and type 2 before and three weeks after COVID-19 full immunisation (first and second dose). The comparison with corresponding data from people without diabetes showed a quite similar structure of the antibody response. However, the immune response to the COVID-19 vaccinations is weaker in older people with diabetes who suffer from impaired kidney function than in people without diabetes. In this respect, this group of elderly people with diabetes seems to be particularly at risk after infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

"Our findings show that booster vaccinations are particularly recommended for older people with diabetes and renal insufficiency, provided that there are no other pre-existing conditions that militate against it," says Moser. The new research results have already been published as a preprint, and the paper is under revision in the journal "Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism". The study was prompted by earlier investigations according to which people with diabetes respond very differently to vaccinations for various infectious diseases - in part worse, but in part even better than the respective control groups without diabetes. 

In another study, the Bayreuth research group of Prof. Dr. Othmar Moser looked into the question of the extent to which complete COVID-19 vaccination affects blood glucose management in people with diabetes. For this purpose,  glucose sensor data of 74 people was analysed during the vaccination and typical reactions to the vaccination were documented. Direct influence of the vaccination on blood glucose management could not be identified. However, in the group of people with type 1 diabetes mellitus, there was a short-term deterioration in blood glucose management - namely when a puncture site reaction, headache, fever, or other symptoms occurred in combination after vaccination. These results suggest that people with type 1 diabetes mellitus should pay special attention to such symptoms during vaccination and monitor their blood glucose levels closely. The research results were  accepted for publication by the journal "Diabetes Care".

In both studies, the research group of the physiologist from Bayreuth cooperated closely with partners from the Medical University of Graz and the Medical University of Innsbruck.

Langerhans Prize of the Austrian Diabetes Society

With its Langerhans Award, the Austrian Diabetes Society honours Prof. Dr. Othmar Moser's many years of publication work in the field of diabetology. At the award ceremony, it paid particular tribute to the benefits of his research work for people with type 1 diabetes mellitus, especially from the point of view of their physical activity and therapy management. "I have only received this honourable distinction because of the outstanding commitment of my team at the University of Bayreuth and Medical University of Graz. Together we have succeeded in improving the therapy and quality of life of people with diabetes mellitus. My thanks therefore go first and foremost to my research group, which made this scientific work possible," says Moser.

Publication (Preprint):

Caren Sourij et al.: Humoral immune response to Covid-19 vaccination in diabetes: age-dependent but independent of type of diabetes and glycaemic control – the prospective COVAC-DM cohort study. medRxiv 2021.11.05.21265849.
DOI: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.11.05.21265849v1

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Prof. Dr. Othmar Moser

Exercise Physiology and Metabolism
University of Bayreuth

Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-3464
E-mail: othmar.moser@uni-bayreuth.de

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Christian Wißler

Deputy Press & PR Manager, Research Communication

Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-5356
E-mail: christian.wissler@uni-bayreuth.de