Oxford research confirms COVID-19 vaccine candidate's strong response in older adults

The University of Oxford confirmed this week that the potential COVID-19 vaccine that it is developing with drugmaker AstraZeneca produces a strong immune response in older adults. 

The vaccine trial findings were published Thursday in The Lancet medical journal. 

"This is a very important step, because the big worry with any vaccine is that it doesn't work so well in older people," Richard Horton, The Lancet's editor in chief, told Bloomberg Television, calling the new data "another brick in the house that we're trying to build for this vaccine."

Older people are at the highest risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19. 

AstraZeneca and Oxford researchers have entered phase three trials for their potential vaccine and are testing whether it protects the elderly, people with underlying health conditions and others.

The results published Thursday in The Lancet are from phase two research trials, which involved 560 healthy volunteers, with 160 between the ages of 18 and 55, 160 aged 56 to 69 and 240 over 70 years old. The results showed that the vaccine candidate was able to prompt a response to the virus within 14 days of the first dose, Bloomberg noted.

The findings show that it produces a similar immune response among adults of all ages.

Oxford researchers have vowed that the results of the phase three trial should be known by Christmas, Reuters reported.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has been a leader in the global race for a COVID-19 vaccine. However, this month, drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna have released data from vaccine trials showing over 90 percent efficacy in tests.