Study: Moderna COVID-19 vaccine trial reveals promising immune response in older adults


(WPRI) — Researchers say an extension of Moderna’s Phase I trial for its coronavirus vaccine candidate is showing that it produced virus-neutralizing antibodies at levels similar to those seen in younger adults, with side effects reported as “predominantly mild or moderate in severity.”

The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine Tuesday.

Phase I of Moderna’s trial injected healthy adult participants aged 18-55. The trial was later expanded to include 40 older adults, separated into groups of adults aged 56-70 and 71 and older.

Participants in the two subgroups were assigned to receive two doses of either 25 micrograms or 100 micrograms of the vaccine which were administered 28 days apart.

Overall, the team found in the older adults who received two injections of the higher dose, 28 days apart, the vaccine produced similar immune responses previously reported among vaccine recipients between the ages of 18 and 55 years-old.

Authors of the study say the testing of the COVID-19 vaccine candidates in older populations “is of paramount importance, since these persons account for the majority of serious Covid-19 cases and associated deaths.”

Norman Hulme, 65, is a senior multimedia developer at Emory University and took the lower dose of the vaccine. He said he felt compelled to take part in the trial after watching first responders in New York and Washington State fight the virus.

“Just wanting to do my piece if something could come along,” Hulme said. “Somebody had to do it. And I’m not making myself like a hero. But, I mean, it’s important to science that this data is captured.”

Study authors say no serious adverse events were reported, and no previously specified trial-halting rules were met. Additionally, any reported side effects were reported to occur soon after getting the vaccine and resolved quickly.

Additionally, any side effects that were reported occurred soon after getting the vaccine and resolved quickly. Volunteers said they felt side effects similar to those of a high-dose flu shot (headache, fatigue, myalgia, chills, and injection-site pain).

Two older volunteers had reactions classified as severe after receiving the second dose.

Researchers say a participant in the 56-70 age group had a fever after receiving the 25 microgram dose, and a participant older than 71-year-old reported fatigue.

Moderna is already testing the higher dose in a large Phase III trial, the final stage before seeking emergency authorization or approval.

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