Oxford COVID-19 vaccine shows promising immune response among elderly people

Clay Curtis
November 20, 2020

The vaccine also induced a specific antibody response to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein at 28 days after a single dose across all age groups.

"Since elderly populations will be one of the priority groups to receive a vaccine when one is available, this is good news". Pollard said he expects to release all data from the Phase 3 study by late December. But for now, researchers are celebrating this reassuring early data.

"The robust antibody and T-cell responses seen in older people in our study are encouraging", Oxford University's Dr. Maheshi Ramasamy, a co-author of The Lancet study, told CBS News.

"To show this vaccine technology is able to induce these responses, in the age group most at risk from severe COVID-19 disease, offers hope that vaccine efficacy will be similar in younger and older adults".

560 volunteers participated in the clinical trials; half of them were over 70 years olds.

Pfizer, which is among the front-runners in the race to develop an effective COVID-19 vaccine, said its proposed vaccine is more than 90% effective based on initial trial results. The human body can become immune to the adenoviral vectors used in the vaccine, which makes booster shots more hard.

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The Pfizer vaccine is now furthest ahead and Albert Bourla, the chief executive of the pharmaceutical company, said submissions to regulators would be made within days and shipping would begin "a couple of hours" after it was given the green light.

Adenovirus-vectored vaccines are not without controversy. Those individuals who received two doses had their immune responses assessed on the day of vaccination, and day 1, day 2, and 4 weeks post-vaccination.

The findings were published on Thursday in The Lancet. This is an important milestone as this group is considered "high risk" as they are the most vulnerable to the virus which is oftentimes fatal. For this reason, the study includes only healthy participants and not those with co-morbidities or who are frail. Immunogenicity was also similar across age groups after a boost vaccination. Nor was there a wide range of backgrounds in the trial participants and "almost all participants of all ages were white and non-smokers". The Sputnik V data from Russian Federation is even more encouraging for Oxford because, like their technology, the vaccine uses a harmless adenovirus to shuttle Covid antigens into the body, proving the approach works in principle.

And only one of those can answer the ultimate question: does the vaccine actually protect people from getting sick with Covid?

She notes that while today's results are a definite step in the right direction, further evidence is needed before any concrete judgement can be made on their vaccine candidate.

"CoronaVac could be an attractive option because it can be stored in a standard refrigerator between 2 and 8 degrees centigrade, which is typical for many existing vaccines including flu", Dr Gang Zeng of Sinovac Biotech in Beijing said.

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