The Oxford coronavirus vaccine shows a strong immune response in adults in their 60s and 70s, according to their phase two findings published in The Lancet.
The ChAdOx1 nCov-2019 vaccine has been shown to trigger a robust immune response in healthy adults aged 56-69 and people over 70.
Volunteers in the trial demonstrated similar immune responses across all three age groups (18-55, 56-69, and 70 and over).
560 healthy adults – including 240 over the age of 70 – found the vaccine is better tolerated in older people compared with younger adults.
Volunteers received two doses of the vaccine candidate, or a placebo meningitis vaccine.
They are also testing whether the vaccine stops people developing Covid-19 in larger, phase three trials.
Early results from this crucial stage are expected in the coming weeks.
Three vaccines – Pfizer-BioNTech, Sputnik and Moderna – have already reported good preliminary data from phase three trials.
The UK government has ordered more of the Oxford vaccine, manufactured by AstraZeneca, than any other – 100 million doses – compared to 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and five million of the Moderna vaccine.
Professor Andrew Pollard, the head of Oxford’s vaccine trial team, said he is “absolutely delighted” with the latest results.
He added there is “no competition” between different vaccines because “we need multiple vaccines to be successful… because we’ve got a lot of people to protect all around the globe”.
He added: “We’re still at the bottom of that mountain, in some ways, but we’ve done the route into the bottom of the mountain – the long trek to get to the start.
“Now we’ve got to get the data about the vaccines in front of regulators for them to scrutinise it and approve the first vaccines, and then we’ve got that huge effort to climb up to the top where we’ve got a vast majority of those who are at risk vaccinated and protected, so that the most vulnerable are no longer at risk, and we can start to get back to normal.”
Dr Maheshi Ramasamy, 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.’
For most vaccines, older adults do not exhibit as strong a response as younger adults, and vaccine-induced antibodies commonly display a lower protective capacity. The data reported today are particularly promising, as they show that the older individuals in this study, who are more prone to serious illness and death from COVID-19, are showing a similar immune response to younger adults.
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.