Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine appears to create as strong an immune response in older people as it does in younger adults. That’s a positive sign as many vaccines don’t work as well in the elderly.
A small study published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine found the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine elicited an immune system response almost as strong in people over 56 as in adults between the ages of 18 and 55.
“This is very promising but it’s also somewhat surprising,” said David Dowling, an immunologist and professor at Harvard Medical School, who studies vaccines.
Older people are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People 50 to 64 years old are four times more likely to be hospitalized and 30 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than people between the ages of 18 and 29. Those aged 65 to 74 are five times more likely to be hospitalized and 90 times more likely to die. The older the person, the higher the risk.
“The immune responses were very comparable to that of the young adults,” said Dr. Evan Anderson, a professor of infectious disease at Emory University Medical School and lead author on the paper.
Having a vaccine that works well for older people could make a big difference in COVID-19 vaccine distribution. There have been fears any vaccine approved might not work as well in the elderly.
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