Competition has intensified among pharmaceutical companies racing to develop a Covid-19 shot, with two vaccines - one by United States company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, and another by U.S. firm Moderna - publishing large-scale trial data this month that showed their jabs were around 95 percent effective against Covid-19.
And given the United Kingdom has bet most heavily on the Oxford vaccine in terms of investment and numbers of doses ordered, a positive result will be the Christmas present we've all been waiting for. 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.
University of Oxford scientists have released a study that found the vaccine it is developing with the drugmaker AstraZeneca was well tolerated and produced a strong immune response in people over 70.
Moderna and Pfizer both announced their phase 3 trials showed each of their vaccines were more than 90 percent effective at preventing the coronavirus. "As a result, it is crucial that COVID-19 vaccines are tested in this group who are also a priority group for immunization".
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.
It added that Pakistan contacted Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, for getting free-of-cost vaccines or its availability on discounted prices.
The vaccination is done with two doses taken 14 days apart and the vaccine candidate is effective, which makes it suitable for emergency use amid the pandemic, said Zhu Fengcai, one of the authors of the findings. "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".
"We think that this particular sort of antibody is important in protection from infection, and certainly in animal models, we've seen that neutralising antibody is associated with protection from lung infection".
The team also studied neutralising antibody in the participants, and found that similar levels of neutralising antibody responses were seen after two doses, regardless of age.
"The robust antibody and T-cell responses seen in older people in our study are encouraging", added co-author, Dr. Maheshi Ramasamy, PhD, from the University of Oxford.
The manufacturers said the vaccine was undergoing larger, more comprehensive phase 3 trials to confirm the results.
He said, "We will need all of them to protect people around the globe".