Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine Shows 'Encouraging' Immune Response Among Older People

Friday, 20 Nov, 2020

Noting that it is natural to prioritise COVID-19 vaccine distribution, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday said healthcare workers and people aged above 65 will be early recipients when a vaccine becomes available.

Pfizer had planned to publish initial data after about 60 infections, but it exceeded its target after the big jump in infections recently in the United States.

News reported that early results from the critical third phase are expected in the next few weeks.

Previously, experts have raised concerns that a potential vaccine against COVID-19 may not be as effective in the older population, as the elderly are likely to have a weaker immune system compared to younger people. Andrew Pollard was "absolutely delighted with the results for showing a strong immune response even in those over 70 years of age".

"The vaccine appears to be well tolerated in all age groups, with older individuals reporting fewer side-effects".

"The research shows that an immune response was generated in all age groups, including in the cohort of participants aged over 70 years", said Michael Head, senior research fellow in Global Health at the University of Southampton, who was not involved in the trial.

Following the phase 2 trial, scientists say that their vaccine works particularly well in older adults, describing the findings as "encouraging".

Similar patterns were observed with regards to neutralising antibody response with no notable difference at day 28 after the first vaccine dose regardless of age or vaccine dose.

However, the final-stage trial results are still awaited and researchers are waiting to find out if the efficacy levels of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine can meet the bars set by United States pharma giants Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc.

Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots, both of which use new technology known as messenger RNA (mRNA), AstraZeneca's is a viral vector vaccine made from a weakened version of a common cold virus found in chimpanzees.

J&J started mid-stage phase II trials in Spain and other countries in September and launched a late-stage trial in Britain on Monday.