Oxford COVID-19 vaccine triggers robust immune response in older adults, study shows

The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine candidate is effective in healthy adults aged 56-69 and those over 70 years of age, a Phase II study has demonstrated.

Man getting COVID-19 vaccination

The ChAdOx1 nCov-2019 COVID-19 vaccine candidate has been shown to trigger a robust immune response in healthy adults aged 56-69 and those over 70 years of age. The vaccine was developed by teams at the University of Oxford, UK, and AstraZeneca. Now, Oxford scientists say that the data suggest one of the groups most vulnerable to serious illness and death from COVID-19 could build immunity.

According to the researchers, older adults have been shown to be at higher risk from COVID-19 and should be considered to be a priority for immunisation should any effective vaccine be developed for the disease. Reporting on data from a Phase II trial of the ChAdOx1 nCov-2019 vaccine, the authors write that volunteers in the trial demonstrate similar neutralising antibody titres and T-cell responses across all three age groups (18-55, 56-79 and 70+).

During the Phase II trial, the vaccine was evaluated in 560 healthy adult volunteers aged between 18-55 years, 56-69 years and aged 70 or over. Volunteers received two doses of the vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 or a placebo MenACWY vaccine. The data 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. No serious adverse health events related to ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 were seen in these volunteers.

These data are consistent with the Phase I data reported for healthy adults aged 18-55 early this year.

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.”

Furthermore, the team found that the vaccine was less likely to cause local reactions at the injection site and symptoms on the day of vaccination in older adults than in the younger group, demonstrating that assessment of the efficacy of the vaccine is warranted in all age groups.

The Phase III trials of the ChAdOx1 nCov-2019 vaccine are ongoing, with early efficacy readings possible in the coming weeks.

The data was published in The Lancet