November 29, 2020

Oxford COVID-19 vaccine generates immune response among young and old

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The COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca generates similar immune responses among younger and older adults, the pharmaceutical company has said.

AstraZeneca said that the finding added to the body of evidence proving that the vaccine candidate is safe and effective.

The development raises hopes as COVID-19 is known to severely affect older persons.

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Here are more details.

Details: ‘Similar immunogenicity responses between older, younger adults’

A spokesperson for AstraZeneca told Reuters on Monday, “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.”

Lower reactogenicity implies that the vaccine, called AZD1222 (formerly known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19), triggers lower adverse responses among the elderly.

Initial report: New findings echo immune response data on younger adults

The findings from immunogenicity blood tests conducted on a subset of older participants echo data released in July, which showed the vaccine generated “robust immune responses” among healthy adults aged 18-55, the Financial Times had reported earlier on Monday.

The report added that the details of these findings will be published in a clinical journal, which was not named.

Vaccine: Vaccine made from genetically-modified virus infecting chimpanzees

Work on AZD1222 started in January, weeks after news of a novel coronavirus in China emerged.

It is one of the biggest COVID-19 vaccine projects and has been made from a weakened, genetically-modified version of a common cold virus, or adenovirus, that causes infections in chimpanzees, but cannot grow in the human body.

The adenovirus carries the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2’s spike protein.

Roll-out: Vaccine not yet ready, says British Health Secretary

Meanwhile, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock clarified a vaccine was not yet ready. Hancock said that he was preparing logistics for a possible roll-out mostly in the first half of 2021.

When asked if some people could receive the vaccine this year, Hancock told BBC‘s Today program, “I don’t rule that out but that is not my central expectation.”

Fact: Vaccine may be available in India by March: SII official

Earlier, the Executive Director of the Serum Institute of India (SII)—that has struck a deal to manufacture AZD1222—had said that the vaccine may hit the Indian market as early as March 2021. The vaccine will be sold under the name ‘Covishield’ in India.

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