Hope for elderly as vaccine shows 94% protection

Experts have welcomed the news that the promising Covid vaccine candidate developed by Pfizer is effective among the elderly.

Data from Pfizer and BioNTech’s phase 3 trial show their vaccine is 94% effective in those aged 65 and older.

Scientists have welcomed the news that older people will achieve a good level of protection, with those over 65 years deemed to be at higher risk of severe illness from Covid-19 or death.

One expert said that the findings among the elderly “surpass expectations”.

Another said the news provides hope that other vaccines will be effective in the elderly.

Dr Charlie Weller, head of vaccines at the Wellcome Trust, said: “This reported additional data is another bright moment in what has been a dark year.

“Today’s update from Pfizer/BioNTech on the efficacy of their vaccine is highly encouraging.

“Such high levels of efficacy reported in over 65 year olds surpasses all expectations we had for the first generation of Covid-19 vaccines.

“This group is amongst those most at risk of serious illness, and alongside healthcare workers must be prioritised to receive the first doses of any vaccines.”

Stephen Evans, professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, added: “This announcement in a press release is very good news indeed. There are now rather more data accrued with, it is said, no serious side effects.

“It seems there is some evidence that in older adults – but we do not have data in detail and there are probably no data for 80 years and older – there is also very good efficacy with minimal side effects.

“This is again very good news, not just for this vaccine, but as it also makes it more likely that other vaccines will also be reasonably effective in older adults.”

Prof Trudie Lang, of the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford, said: “The detail on achieving 94% protection in the elderly participants in the trial is particularly excellent news.”