Oxford Covid-19 vaccine produces immune response among elderly and young, AstraZeneca says

AstraZeneca is seen as a front runner in the race to produce a vaccine to protect against Covid-19.
AstraZeneca is seen as a front runner in the race to produce a vaccine to protect against Covid-19.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - The Covid-19 vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca produces a robust immune response in elderly people and young people, and adverse reactions were lower among the elderly, British drug maker AstraZeneca said on Monday (Oct 26). 

A vaccine that works is seen as a game-changer in the battle against the coronavirus, which has killed more than 1.15 million people, hammered the global economy and shuttered normal life across the world.

The Financial Times reported that the vaccine, being developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca, triggers protective antibodies and T-cells in older age groups.

It cited two people familiar with the finding.

Immunogenicity blood tests carried out on a subset of older participants echo data released in July which showed the vaccine generated "robust immune responses" in a group of healthy adults aged between 18 and 55, the newspaper reported.

"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," an AstraZeneca spokesman told Reuters. 

"The results further build the body of evidence for the safety and immunogenicity of AZD1222," the spokesman said. 

Details of the finding are expected to be published shortly in a clinical journal, the FT said.

It did not name the publication. 

AstraZeneca, which is developing the vaccine with Oxford University researchers, is seen as a front runner in the race to produce a vaccine to protect against Covid-19.

One of the world's leading coronavirus vaccine candidates, called AZD1222 or ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, was developed by Oxford University scientists and licensed to AstraZeneca in April, which took on the task of scaling trials and production.

The British drugmaker has signed several supply and manufacturing deals with companies and governments around the world as it gets closer to reporting early results of a late-stage clinical trial.

AstraZeneca resumed the US trial of the experimental vaccine after approval by US regulators, the company said last Friday.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said a vaccine was not yet ready though he was preparing logistics for a possible roll out. He said he expected the roll out to happen in the first half of 2021.

But staff at a major London hospital trust have been told to be ready to receive the first batches of the vaccine being developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca, The Sun newspaper reported on Monday. 

The Sun said the hospital, which was not identified, was told to prepare for the vaccine from the "week commencing Nov 2".