AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine produces an immune response in older people, raising hopes a vaccine will protect those at greatest risk

AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine produces an immune response in older people, raising hopes a vaccine will protect those at greatest risk
Dr. Mustafa Gerek is vaccinated in volunteer in trials of a COVID-19 vaccine from China at Ankara City Hospital in Ankara, Turkey on October 13, 2020.Aytac Unal/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
  • AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine triggers an immune response in elderly people as well as young adults, the drugmaker said Monday.
  • "Immunogenicity responses were similar between older and younger adults," an AstraZeneca spokesperson said.
  • The vaccine, being developed with the University of Oxford, is one of the world's leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
  • This does not necessarily mean the vaccine is safe and effective — but it is promising news, given that the immune system weakens as a person grows older.

AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine produces an immune response in elderly people, the drugmaker said on Monday.

This does not necessarily mean the vaccine, being developed alongside the University of Oxford, is safe and effective in older people — but it is promising news, given that the immune system weakens as a person grows older.

AstraZeneca also said "reactogenicity" — expected adverse reactions to the virus, which commonly include sore arm or swelling — was lower in older people than younger people.
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An AstraZeneca spokesperson told Business Insider: "It is encouraging to see immunogenicity responses were similar between older and younger adults and that reactogenicity was lower in older adults, where the COVID-19 disease severity is higher."

"The results further build the body of evidence for the safety and immunogenicity of AZD1222," the name of the vaccine, the spokesperson added.

The drugmakers' statement Monday came after the the Financial Times reported that the vaccine, one of the world's leading candidates, triggers protective antibodies and T-cells in older people, citing two people familiar with trial data.
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The findings came from blood tests carried out on a subset of older participants in the vaccine trials. Details of the results are expected to be published in a clinical journal, the FT said.

These results compare to data released in July that showed the vaccine produced immune responses in a group of healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 55, the FT reported. The findings come after the Food and Drug Administration allowed AstraZeneca on Friday to resume its vaccine trials in the US after a participant reported a "severe adverse reaction" on September 6.
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Coronavirus has killed more than 1.15 million people worldwide.

With dozens of vaccine candidates in late-stage clinical trials, including AstraZeneca's, hope remains that a safe, effective vaccine will be developed before the end of the year.

White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a BBC interview on Sunday: "We will know whether a vaccine is safe and effective by the end of November, the beginning of December."
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Fauci added: "The question is: Once you have a safe and effective vaccine, or more than one, how can you get it to the people who need it as quickly as possible?"

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