Scientists at Oxford University and British pharmaceutical manufacturer AstraZeneca are one of the leading teams in trying to find a miracle treatment for coronavirus. Preliminary results from phase two trials found people aged over 55-years-old and those most vulnerable, aged over 70-years-old, develop defences against the killer virus.
Experts say the vaccine known medically as ChAdOx1 nCov-2019, has also triggered a “similar” immune response in both younger and older adults.
The initial findings from stage two of the trial have been submitted for peer review in a medical journal.
With growing optimism over the potential of the treatment, it has moved onto phase three clinical trials.
At this crucial stage, the effectiveness of the treatment is being tested on thousands of volunteers across the world.
In a statement, Oxford University said: “Professor Pollard discussed the early findings of the Phase II safety and immunogenicity trial of the ChAdOx1 nCov-2019 Oxford coronavirus vaccine at a research conference.
“These early results covering trial volunteers from the UK in the 56-69 and 70+ age groups have been submitted to a peer-review journal, and we hope to see their publication in the coming weeks.
“Our ongoing trials will provide further data, but this marks a key milestone and reassures us that the vaccine is safe for use and induces strong immune responses in both parts of the immune system in all adult groups.”
A spokesman for AstraZeneca confirmed side effects to the virus were also lower in the most high-risk patients.
In a statement, the Cambridge-based firm said: “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.”
The promising results have prompted reports a vaccine could be rolled-out within weeks.
But, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has dampened expectations and insisted a treatment is most likely during the first half of 2021.
When asked about how soon NHS staff could be injected with a vaccine, he said: “Well, we’re not there yet.
Meanwhile, Jason Leitch, the national clinical director of Scotland, was more upbeat and insisted some doses could be available before Christmas.
Speaking to the BBC, he said: “We’ve got lots of vaccine trials going on, we’ve even got some people being vaccinated and then infected with coronavirus to see what happens, around the UK and around the world.
“We are expecting, with a fair wind, some doses of vaccines this side of Christmas, but not at a population level, not at an immunity level for the whole population, but we’re very hopeful.”