19 November 2020
The ChAdOx1 nCov-2019 coronavirus vaccine, developed by teams at the University of Oxford, has been shown to trigger a robust immune response in healthy adults aged 56-69 and those over 70 years of age. The data, published today in The Lancet, suggest that one of the groups most vulnerable to serious illness, and death from COVID-19, could build immunity.
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 2 trial the vaccine has been evaluated in 560 healthy adult volunteers aged between 18-55 years, 56-69 years and aged 70 or over. Volunteers received 2 doses of the vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, or a placebo MenACWY vaccine. 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.’
For most vaccines, older adults do not exhibit as strong a response as younger adults, and vaccine-induced antibodies commonly display a lower protective capacity. The data reported today 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.
Dr Angela Minassian, Investigator at the University of Oxford and Honorary Consultant in Infectious Diseases said:
‘Inducing robust immune responses in older adults has been a long-standing challenge in human vaccine research.’
‘To show this vaccine technology is able to induce these responses, in the age group most at risk from severe COVID-19 disease, offers hope that vaccine efficacy will be similar in younger and older adults’.
Furthermore, 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.
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Safety and immunogenicity of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine administered in a prime-boost regimen in young and old adults(COV002): a single-blind, randomised, controlled, phase 2/3 trial is published in The Lancet.
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About the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine
ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, now known as AZD1222 co-invented by University of Oxford and its spin-out company, Vaccitech is being trialled by the University’s Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group. The team started working to develop a vaccine against coronavirus in January 2020.
Developed at the Jenner Institute, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 uses a viral vector based on a weakened version of the common cold virus (adenovirus) containing the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. After vaccination, the surface spike protein is produced, which primes the immune system to attack COVID-19 if it later infects the body. The recombinant adenovirus vector (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19) was chosen to generate a strong immune response from a single dose and it is not replicating, so cannot cause an ongoing infection in the vaccinated individual. Vaccines made from the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 virus have been given to more than 4,000 people to date and have been shown to be safe and well tolerated, although they can cause temporary side effects, such as a temperature, flu-like symptoms, headache or sore arm.
The potential vaccine entered Phase III clinical trials in May to study safety and efficacy in healthy volunteers aged 18 to 55 years, across 19 trial sites in the UK. The University of Oxford is also working with research partners at a number of clinical trial sites around the world as part of this late stage trial.
Further information about the vaccine trial can be found at: https://covid19vaccinetrial.co.uk/home
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