Healthcare

AstraZeneca says its vaccine produces immune response in older adults

AstraZeneca said Monday that its potential coronavirus vaccine provokes an immune response in older adults, which it touted as a positive development as clinical trials proceed.

The immune response in older adults was similar to that in younger people, the company said, and adverse responses to the vaccine, known as reactogenicity, was lower in older people.

"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 spokesperson said. "The results further build the body of evidence for the safety and immunogenicity of [the vaccine]."

AstraZeneca, partnered with Oxford University, is developing one of the leading potential coronavirus vaccines, which is now in the third phase of clinical trials, along with other potential vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.

AstraZeneca faced a setback in early September when its vaccine trial was halted to review potential safety concerns from a participant developing neurological symptoms. The Food and Drug Administration allowed the trial to resume on Friday.

"The restart of clinical trials across the world is great news as it allows us to continue our efforts to develop this vaccine to help defeat this terrible pandemic," AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said in a statement Friday. "We should be reassured by the care taken by independent regulators to protect the public and ensure the vaccine is safe before it is approved for use."

The complete picture of the potential vaccine's safety and efficacy will not be known until the full data from the phase three trial is published.

Reacting to Monday's announcement about the immune response, Florian Krammer, a professor of vaccinology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, tweeted: "AZ says the vaccine is immunogenic in older individuals. This has been shown for other COVID-19 vaccines too. Good, but no breakthrough."

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