AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine shows promise in elderly, trial results by Christmas

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Earlier this month, Australian manufacturer CSL kicked off production of 30 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, despite it still undergoing clinical trials.

Now, researchers have released preliminary results that show the vaccine produces an immune response, although it's too early to say whether it can prevent disease.

However, the researchers said they still expect CoronaVac to protect against Covid-19, citing their experience with other vaccines and evidence gathered from testing it on monkeys. "As a result, it is crucial that Covid-19 vaccines are tested in this group who are also a priority group for immunisation".

The ministry had said that the trials of COVID-19 vaccines have entered into its third phase on the global level and all countries started advance booking for the vaccines expected to be introduced in the first and second quarters of 2021. It is also generating a good antibody response.

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"We believe that this makes the vaccine suitable for emergency use during the pandemic", Zhu added.

Larger studies are now underway to evaluate immunogenicity, safety and efficacy in older adults with a wider range of comorbidities. "We hope that this means our vaccine will help to protect some of the most vulnerable people in society, but further research will be needed before we can be sure".

In phase 1, the 144 participants were divided into two vaccination groups during screening - the days 0 and 14 vaccination cohort and the days 0 and 28 vaccination cohort.

"Our new study answers some questions about protecting older adults, but questions remain about effectiveness and length of protection, and we need to confirm our results in older adults with underlying conditions to ensure that our vaccine protects those most at risk of severe COVID-19 disease", Gilbert explained.

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The results follow news this month from Pfizer Inc and BioNTech and from Moderna, as well as from Russian Federation, of experimental vaccines proving more than 90% effective, based on interim data from large, late-stage trials.

"The robust antibody and T-cell responses seen in older people in our study are encouraging". He told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on Thursday that he was "delighted" that early results show a strong immune response "even in those over 70 years of age".

No serious adverse health events related to the vaccine were seen in the participants and older people were found to have fewer side effects (such as fatigue and muscle ache) than younger participants.

Professor Pollard said: "We're still waiting to get to the point where we can do the analysis to just work out how well the vaccine can protect people, and we're getting ever closer to that".

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