COVID-19 Vaccine by Moderna Seems Safe, Exhibits Good Signs in Older Adults

Results from an early safety study of Moderna Inc’s coronavirus vaccine candidate in older adults exhibited that it generated virus-neutralizing antibodies at levels similar to those observed in younger adults, with side effects roughly on par with high-dose flu shots, researchers said on Tuesday.

Findings are Reassuring

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, provides a more wholesome idea of the vaccine’s safety in older adults, a group at an amplified risk of severe complications from COVID-19.

The findings are reassuring as immunity leans towards a weaker side with age, Dr. Evan Anderson, one of the study’s lead researchers from Emory University in Atlanta, explained in a phonetic interview.

The study acted as an extension of Moderna’s Phase I safety trial, first conducted in individuals in the age group of 18-55. It tested two doses of Moderna’s vaccine i.e. 25 micrograms and 100 micrograms, in 40 adults aged 56 to 70 and 71 and older.

Overall, the team concluded that in older adults who received two injections of the 100 microgram dose 28 days apart, the vaccine generated immune responses roughly in sync with those observed in younger adults.

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

Associated Side Effects

Side effects, which consisted of headache, fatigue, body aches, chills, and injection site pain, were considered majorly mild to moderate. However, in at least two cases volunteers had severe reactions.

One developed a grade three fever, which is classified as 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit (39°C) or above, after getting the lower vaccine dose. Another developed fatigue that was so severe it temporarily stopped daily activities, Anderson said.

Typically, side effects happened soon after receiving the vaccine and got better quickly, he said.

“This is similar to what a lot of older adults are going to experience with the high-dose influenza vaccine,” Anderson said. “They might feel off or have a fever.”

Norman Hulme, who is a 65-year-old senior multimedia developer at Emory who received the lower dose of the vaccine, said he felt intrigued to take part in the trial after seeing first responders in New York and Washington State fight the virus.

“I really had no side effects at all,” said Hulme, who grew up in the New York area.

Hulme said he knew about Moderna’s vaccine was integrated with new technology, and that there might be a risk in taking it, but said, “Somebody had to do it.”