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Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine Shows Good Immune Response In Older People

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A coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed by British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca PLC (AZN,AZN.L) and Oxford University is safe and produced a strong immune response in older adults, data from an early study of the vaccine showed.

The data from the mid-stage trial of the vaccine, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 or AZD1222, was published in the Lancet medical journal on Thursday. The findings from the study assume significance as older adults are most at risk of death or serious illness from COVID-19.

The peer-reviewed findings showed that the vaccine appeared to be better tolerated in older adults than in younger adults, and has similar immunogenicity across all age groups.

The Phase 2 trial reported in the Lancet involved 560 healthy adults, comprising 160 people aged between 18 and 55 years, 160 people aged between 56 and 69 years, and 240 people aged 70 years and above.

The study found that older adults, aged 56 to 69 years and over 70 years, had a similar immune response to younger adults aged between 18 and 55 years.

Older adults are at a disproportionate risk of severe COVID-19 disease, so, any vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 must be effective in this group, the researchers noted.

Dr. Maheshi Ramasamy, a co-author of the study and a co-lead investigator at the Oxford vaccine Group, noted that the antibody and T-cell response among older adults were encouraging.

The authors of the study noted that their new findings could be "encouraging" if the immune responses found in their study are associated with protection against infection with SARS-CoV-2. However, the study did not assess the vaccine's efficacy.

Phase 3 studies with ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 are ongoing in the UK, Brazil, and the USA to assess the vaccine's efficacy and safety.

The results from the study come as rival vaccine makers too have reported promising news this week regarding their vaccine candidates.

On Wednesday, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. (PFE) and German biotech firm BioNTech SE (BNTX) said that final data analysis from the Phase 3 study of their mRNA-based coronavirus vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, showed the vaccine to be 95 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.

Moderna Inc. (MRNA) also said earlier this week that preliminary data from the Phase 3 study of its coronavirus vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, showed the vaccine is more than 94 percent effective.

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