Harvard-NPR Panel: Race for the COVID-19 Vaccine : Shots

Ruben Fields
November 20, 2020

While the results are a positive indicator that the vaccine could be used in the elderly, who have been disproportionately affected by severe COVID-19, co-author Sarah Gilbert said that "questions remain about effectiveness and length of protection", adding that they needed to confirm their results in older adults with underlying conditions.

Within the past two weeks, Pfizer and Moderna have both shown promising results from trials of their COVID-19 vaccines.

Phase II vaccine trials provide important preliminary data but don't prove whether they ultimately prevent people from getting sick.

AstraZeneca and Oxford's vaccine works differently than the one created by Pfizer and Moderna. From the 560 volunteers, 240 of them were over the age of 70 years.

Responses were "similar" across all age groups, the researchers said.

"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.

Divided even further, participants were randomised to receive one dose of vaccine, while some received two doses.

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The Phase 3 trials of the vaccine are underway and early efficacy readings could come out in the upcoming weeks.

Health experts have said an effective COVID-19 vaccine that can be rolled out quickly to the entire population will be a major weapon in stemming the pandemic.

Netanyahu on Monday spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the possibility of purchasing Russia's coronavirus vaccine.

Israel has shown interest in the vaccine ever since Russian Federation announced that it was ready for human trials, and in early November the director of Jerusalem's Hadassah Medical Center said the hospital had ordered 1.5 million units of the vaccine and would apply for Health Ministry approval for their use, pending the phase 3 trials. Jerusalem Hadassah Medical Center CEO Zeev Rotstein said Russian authorities had asked Hadassah to file the paperwork for approval of the vaccine with Israel's Health Ministry. The phase 3 trial involved 40,000 volunteers in 29 clinics in Moscow.

China has been bullish about the development of its vaccine for the new virus - which first emerged in the centre of the country late a year ago - with four vaccines now in late-stage testing.

So far 1.2 million people have died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Much like their U.S. counterparts, the United Kingdom vaccine team has reached stage three of its development process, but results could take a little longer.

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