In a new study from Oregon Health & Science University, researchers found older people appear to have fewer antibodies against the novel coronavirus.
Antibodies are blood proteins that are made by the immune system to protect against infection. They are known to be key players in protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Older populations are potentially more susceptible to the variants even if they are vaccinated.
The team emphasized that even though they measured diminished antibody response in older people, the vaccine still appeared to be effective enough to prevent infection and severe illness in most people of all ages.
Vaccinations reduce the spread of the virus and new and potentially more transmissible variants, especially for older people who appear to be more susceptible to breakthrough infections.
The team says older people aren’t entirely safe just because they’re vaccinated; the people around them really need to be vaccinated as well.
At the end of the day, this study really means that everybody needs to be vaccinated to protect the community.
In the study, researchers measured the immune response in the blood of 50 people two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19.
The youngest group—all in their 20s—had a nearly seven-fold increase in antibody response compared with the oldest group of people between 70 and 82 years of age.
In fact, the laboratory results reflected a clear linear progression from youngest to oldest: The younger a participant, the more robust the antibody response.
The findings highlight the importance of vaccinating older people as well as others who may be more vulnerable to COVID-19.
The vaccine still produces strong immune responses compared with natural infection in most older individuals, even if they are lower than their younger counterparts.
Vaccination in this group may make the difference between serious and mild disease, and likely reduces the chances of transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to another person.
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The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. One author of the study is Fikadu Tafesse, Ph.D.
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