AstraZeneca vaccine shows strong immune response in elderly, appears safe in study

Henrietta Brewer
November 24, 2020

"It is essential that a COVID-19 vaccine can be effective across a broad age range, particularly in older individuals where they are disproportionately at risk of severe COVID-19 disease".

The trial involved 560 adult volunteers, with 240 of them over the age of 70.

"The robust antibody and T-cell responses seen in older people in our study are encouraging", said Maheshi Ramasamy, a consultant and co-lead investigator at the Oxford Vaccine Group.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) could produce a scientific opinion on COVID-19 vaccines seeking regulatory approval by the end of the year in a best case scenario, the regulator's new chief was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

The trial also found that the vaccine causes few side effects, according to The Lancet.

"As of Oct 26, 2020, 13 serious adverse events occurred during the study period, none of which were considered to be related to either study vaccine".

"We hope that this means our vaccine will help to protect some of the most vulnerable people in society, but further research will be needed before we can be sure". The early results are consistent with phase one data reported for healthy adults aged 18-55 earlier this year.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine candidate, called AZD1222 or ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, are among the front-runners in global efforts to develop shots to protect against an infection of the novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2.

The authors noted some limitations to their study, including that participants in the oldest age group had an average age of 73 to 74 and few underlying health conditions, and nearly all participants were White and non-smokers.

The race for the coronavirus vaccine has picked up pace in recent weeks with Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna announcing the results of phase 3 trials.

Dr. Andrew Pollard says scientists expect to report results from the late-stage trials of their COVID-19 vaccine by Christmas.

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