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Vaccine may help over 60s - but response weaker

Friday October 16th 2020

A COVID-19 vaccine under development in China can induce antibody responses in elderly patients, researchers have reported.

More than 600 volunteers took part in a trial between May and July, according to a report in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

The vaccine is the second from China to use an inactivated SARS-Cov-2 virus and the trial is the first from the country to involve volunteers aged between 60 and 80. It is one of 42 vaccines under development globally.

At 42 days all recipients had antibody responses – although they were lower among over 60s than among under 60s.

The older patients were also slower to respond – and did not show antibodies 28 days after vaccination, according to the study.

Researchers said there were no serious side effects – although a small number developed a fever.

Researcher Professor Xiaoming Yang, from the Beijing Institute of Biological Products Company Limited, Beijing, China, said: "Protecting older people is a key aim of a successful COVID-19 vaccine as this age group is at greater risk of severe illness from the disease. However, vaccines are sometimes less effective in this group because the immune system weakens with age.

“It is therefore encouraging to see that BBIBP-CorV induces antibody responses in people aged 60 and older, and we believe this justifies further investigation."

* Physicists at Oxford University have developed a five minute test for viruses, it has been announced.

The technique uses machine learning and can distinguish SARS-CoV-2 from flu and other coronaviruses and respiratory viruses, according to a report placed on MedRxiv.

It is based on labelling virus particles with short fluorescent DNA strands.

The developers hope to unveil a portable device within six months, they say.

Lancet Infectious Diseases 15 October 2020

Tags: Asia | Elderly Health | Flu & Viruses

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