Covid: Oxford vaccine shows 'encouraging' immune response in older adults

Covid: Oxford vaccine shows 'encouraging' immune response in older adults
The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University produces a strong immune response in older adults, data from early trials has shown.

The phase one and phase two results suggest that one of the groups most at risk of death or serious illness from COVID-19 may be able to build immunity, according to data published in The Lancet medical journal.

It comes a day after Pfizer announced its coronavirus vaccine was 94% effective among adults over 65 in its final efficacy results, and that it would be seeking authorisation over the next few days.

Responding to the news, Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: ''There is still much work to be done, but this is a really encouraging set of findings from the @UniofOxford and @AstraZeneca vaccine.''

According to the authors of the Oxford vaccine findings, ''volunteers in the trial demonstrate similar neutralising antibody titres, and T cell responses across all three age groups (18-55, 56-79, and 70+)''.

Around 560 healthy adult volunteers took part in the phase two trials, where they were given two doses of the vaccine candidate, or a placebo.

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No adverse health problems were reported during the trials, the report adds.

The University of Oxford says that across most vaccines, older adults tend not to be as well protected as younger adults, with antibodies induced by a vaccine often showing a lower protective capacity.

Dr Maheshi Ramasamy, an investigator at the Oxford Vaccine Group and consultant physician, said: ''Older adults are a priority group for COVID-19 vaccination, because they are at increased risk of severe disease, but we know that they tend to have poorer vaccine responses.

''We were pleased to see that our vaccine was not only well tolerated in older adults; it also stimulated similar immune responses to those seen in younger volunteers. The next step will be to see if this translates into protection from the disease itself.''

Phase three trials of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, which will determine the vaccine's efficacy, are still ongoing, with results expected over the coming weeks.