The most recent good news for many people is that the Oxford vaccine is showing a strong immune response in the elderly population. The scientific importance is that we have generated a protective response in the older population and traditionally it was difficult to produce a vaccine for them. The vaccine is generating a strong neutralising antibody response and this would protect vulnerable elderly people, although one in a hundred older people will not be protected as they will not respond to the vaccine. The data from the recent publication shows that one in a hundred people will not be protected. So this means that we will still need to take precautions and be careful with measures like hand washing. In the large majority of cases though we would be able to protect our vulnerable elderly people from this disease and they will be able to integrate better within society. It is a very happy time for us.
The challenge lies that it will take time to produce enough vaccine stock to immunize large populations. Advance orders are already being made by many countries but and it will take time to mobilise vaccination teams and move through the community. We need to spare a thought to countries such as part of Asia, Africa and South America that may not have the financial resources to acquire enough vaccine stocks to serve their communities. And that will remain a challenge moving forward.
Professor Calum Semple, OBE
You can watch the interview with Professor Calum Semple from this link.
Professor Calum Semple OBE is Professor of Child Health and Outbreak Medicine, Consultant Respiratory Paediatrician at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
He a board member of the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) for COVID-19.