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Oxford vaccine produces promising response in elderly

A coronavirus vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University produces a strong immune response in older adults, according to a statement by Oxford University.

The early data is from phase one and phase two trials and published in The Lancet medical journal. It shows those most at risk of death from coronavirus could build up immunity through their vaccine.

“There is still much work to be done, but this is a really encouraging set of findings from the [University of Oxford] and [AstraZeneca] vaccine,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted.

The report into the vaccine also found there were no adverse health problems during the trials, the second phase of which gave 560 healthy adults either two doses of the vaccine or a placebo.

Dr. Maheshi Ramasamy, an investigator at the Oxford Vaccine Group, said: "Older adults are a priority group for COVID-19 vaccination because they are at increased risk of severe disease, but we know that they tend to have poorer vaccine responses.

"We were pleased to see that our vaccine was not only well-tolerated in older adults; it also stimulated similar immune responses to those seen in younger volunteers. The next step will be to see if this translates into protection from the disease itself."

Phase three trials to determine how effective the vaccine is are ongoing, and the results are expected over the coming weeks.

The UK has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, in addition to millions of more doses of other vaccine candidates from Pfizer and Moderna.

Anti-COVID nasal spray

Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Birmingham have developed a nasal spray that they say can prevent people from being infected and infecting others with coronavirus.

The study has yet to be peer-reviewed and claims it catches coronavirus and coats inside the nose, where it can be removed either by blowing your nose or swallowing it.

The virus is coated by the spray, meaning it does not infect the body if ingested and is less likely to spread via sneezes or coughs. The experiments showed that the spray prevented infection for up to 48 hours.

Professor Liam Grover, a leading author of the study, said: “Although our noses filter thousands of litres of air each day, there is not much protection from infection, and ost airborne viruses are transmitted via the nasal passage.

“The spray we have formulated delivers that protection but can also prevent the virus from being passed from person to person.”

Dr. Richard Moakes, a co-author of the study, said: “This spray is made from readily available products that are already being used in food products and medicines, and we purposely built these conditions into our design process. It means that, with the right partners, we could start mass production within weeks.

“Products like these don't replace existing measures such as mask-wearing and handwashing, which will continue to be vital to preventing the spread of the virus. What this spray will do, however, is add a second layer of protection to prevent and slow virus transmission.”

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