In an update this Monday, the University of Oxford and British drugmaker AstraZeneca announced that their experimental COVID-19 vaccine produces a similar immune response in both older and younger adults.
The current University of Oxford vaccine, also known as, AZD1222, is considered a frontrunner in the race to protect people around the world from the virus. The news today gives us a glimmer of hope as many countries around the world deal with a new wave of COVID-19.
“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,” says a representative from AstraZeneca in an article for Reuters.
“The results further build the body of evidence for the safety and immunogenicity of AZD1222."
COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on the health of people around the world. According to recent data provided by the World Health Organization, COVID-19 has infected over 42 million people and has taken the lives of 1.1 million people. Even more so, the economic impact of the virus has been devasting, with coronavirus causing entire countries to temporarily shut-down business operations as well as normal everyday life for citizens.
AZD1222 is a big step, but we still have a ways to go.
AZD1222 is one of the vaccines currently on track to help bring us back to some stage of normalcy. Currently, in late-stage human trials, the Oxford AstraZeneca Vaccine triggers protective antibodies and T-cells.
Today's results parallel data from tests in July that showed the vaccine generated "robust immune responses" in a group of healthy adults aged between 18 and 55, says Reuters. Early-stage interim results suggest that the vaccine is safe. But, it does not prove that the vaccine creates long-term immunity or has a confirmed safety profile.
Nevertheless, the news is exciting. The virus has disproportionately impacted older people. Our immune systems weaken as we age. This makes older people the individuals most at risk of dying from the virus.
AZD1222 derives itself from the common cold.
Work on the vaccine began as early January. AZD1222 is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus that causes infections in chimpanzees.
"The chimpanzee cold virus has been genetically changed to include the genetic sequence of the so-called spike protein which the coronavirus uses to gain entry to human cells. The hope is that the human body will then attack the novel coronavirus if it sees it again", says Reuters.
According to AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soirot, the potential vaccine could provide people with protection against contracting COVID-19 for a year. However, when we will we get a vaccine, is still up in the air. Some experts have said that we could see a vaccine early next year, while others have argued that we won't have a viable vaccine until 2024.
Hopefully, we will get one soon.