Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine shows promise in elderly, trial results by Christmas

Brenda Watkins
November 19, 2020

Dr Maheshi Ramasamy, Investigator at the Oxford Vaccine Group and Consultant Physician said in a statement, "Older adults are a priority group for COVID-19 vaccination because they are at increased risk of severe disease, but we know that they tend to have poorer vaccine responses".

A leading COVID-19 vaccine candidate has shown to safely produce a robust immune response in healthy older adults, its British makers said Thursday as it released its phase 2 trial results. Adding that, "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".

Trudeau shared a similar message last week when he confirmed that Canada was also in line for "millions" of the Pfizer vaccine candidate - also showing promising results in its trial stages. The first interim results of efficacy readings for this trial are expected to be reported in the coming weeks.

The UK has already ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, manufactured by AstraZeneca, 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and five million of the Moderna vaccine.

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The Oxford coronavirus vaccine shows a strong immune response in adults in their 60s and 70s, raising hopes that it can protect age groups most at risk from the virus. The results of the peer-reviewed study were published Thursday in the Lancet, an worldwide medical journal. When your body senses that viral protein, it activates an immune response. So they included 200 people over 70 to be given the jab.

Older adults were also less likely to experience side-effects, which were usually mild.

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The findings were based on a so-called phase II trial of 560 people, including 240 over the age of 70. This mean it uses a different virus as a "vector", or delivery mechanism, to introduce a bit of coronavirus' genetic material for coronavirus antigens into the cells, prompting an immune response. which your immune system then learns to identify and overcome.

The AstraZeneca/ Oxford vaccine is now in phase 3 trials, which are set to determine its efficacy.

Sarah Gilbert, lead researcher of the vaccine development programme and professor of vaccinology at University of Oxford, said she is hopeful that people will not need to be vaccinated a few times a year. But only Oxford's Phase 3 data, which we're expecting imminently, will prove whether their vaccine works.

Results of those trials should definitely be known by Christmas, according to the Oxford Vaccine Group's director, Andrew Pollard.

"We're on the cusp of being able to protect those elderly people, who we love, through vaccination", he told Radio 4's Today programme.

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