Oxford COVID-19 vaccine shows strong promise in healthy older people

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In a new study, researchers found that the UK’s vaccine against COVID-19 shows similar safety and immunogenicity results in healthy older adults (aged 56 years and over) to those seen in adults aged 18-55 years.

The phase 2 trial finds that the vaccine causes few side effects, and induces immune responses in both parts of the immune system in all age groups and at low and standard dose – provoking a T cell response within 14 days of the first dose of vaccination, and an antibody response within 28 days of the booster dose of vaccination.

Phase 3 trials are ongoing to confirm these results – as well as how effective the vaccine is in protecting against infection with SARS-CoV-2 – in a broader range of people, including older adults with underlying health conditions.

The research was conducted by a team at the University of Oxford, UK.

Immune responses from vaccines are often lessened in older adults because the immune system gradually deteriorates with age, which also leaves older adults more susceptible to infections.

As a result, it is crucial that COVID-19 vaccines are tested in this group who is also a priority group for immunization.

The robust antibody and T-cell responses were seen in older people in this study are encouraging. The populations at greatest risk of serious COVID-19 disease include people with existing health conditions and older adults.

The scientists 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 new study is the fifth published clinical trial of a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 tested in an older adult population.

Other COVID-19 vaccines have also been shown to generate immune responses in older adults, but it can be difficult to compare results between different studies.

One study has shown similar immune responses in young and old adults (Moderna mRNA vaccine), while other trials have suggested lower measured responses in older adults, compared to younger adults receiving the same vaccine.

One author of the study is Professor Andrew Pollard.

The study is published in The Lancet.

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