Optimism by two companies on Covid-19 vaccine development

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a "Vaccine COVID-19" sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Results from early safety studies of Moderna Inc’s coronavirus vaccine candidate in older adults showed that it produced virus-neutralising antibodies at levels, normally similar to those seen in younger adults. The studies also showed that these had side effects roughly on par with high-dose flu shots, researchers said.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, offers a more complete picture of the vaccine’s safety in older adults, a group at increased risk of severe complications from COVID-19.

Dr. Evan Anderson, one of the study’s lead researchers, said that the findings are reassuring because immunity tends to weaken with age.

The study was an extension of Moderna’s Phase I safety trial. The first study was conducted in individuals aged 18-55. There were two doses of Moderna’s vaccine – 25 micrograms and 100 micrograms – in 40 adults aged 56 to 70 and 71 and older.

Meanwhile, the chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline, the world’s largest maker of vaccines, said she was optimistic the industry will be able to make an immunisation against COVID-19 widely available next year.

“I share the optimism that we will have solutions next year. The challenge here is getting to the scale that is required,” GSK CEO Emma Walmsley said at an online event of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) on Tuesday.