Results from an early safety study of Moderna Inc’s coronavirus vaccine candidate in older adults showed it produced virus-neutralizing antibodies in similar amounts to younger adults, with side effects roughly equivalent to those of high-dose flu shots, researchers said Tuesday.
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 for serious complications from COVID-19.
The results are reassuring as immunity tends to weaken with age, said Dr. Evan Anderson, one of the study’s lead researchers at Emory University in Atlanta, in a telephone interview.
The study was an extension of Moderna’s Phase I safety study, which was first conducted in people aged 18 to 55 years. Two doses of Moderna’s vaccine – 25 micrograms and 100 micrograms – have been tested in 40 adults, ages 56 to 70 and 71 years and older.
Overall, the team found that in older adults who were given two injections of the 100 microgram dose 28 days apart, the vaccine elicited immune responses similar to those seen in younger adults.
Moderna is already testing the higher dose in a large phase III study, the final phase before an emergency approval or approval is obtained.
Side effects, which included headache, fatigue, body pain, chills, and pain at the injection site, were mainly rated as mild to moderate.
However, in at least two cases the volunteers showed severe reactions.
One developed a third-degree fever rated 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit or higher after receiving the lower dose of the vaccine. Another developed fatigue that was so severe it temporarily prevented daily activities, Anderson said.
Typically, side effects appeared soon after receiving the vaccine and resolved quickly, he said.
“This is similar to what many older adults will experience with the high-dose influenza vaccine,” said Anderson. “You might feel bad or have a fever.”
Norman Hulme, a 65-year-old senior multimedia developer at Emory who took the lower dose of the vaccine, said he felt compelled to participate in the study after serving first responders in New York and Washington state to combat the Virus.
“I really had no side effects at all,” said Hulme, who grew up in the New York area.
Hulme said he was aware that Moderna’s vaccine uses new technology and that there may be a risk in taking it, but said, “Somebody had to do it.”
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)