Shares in drug giant AstraZeneca were trading higher on Monday morning following news that its Covid-19 vaccine, which is being developed in conjunction with the Univeristy of Oxford, produces an immune response in both elderly and young people.

According to a report in the Financial Times, the experimental vaccine also produces lower adverse reactions among the elderly. It cited two people familiar with the findings.

A vaccine that works is seen as a game-changer in the battle against coronavirus, which has killed more than 1.15 million people and hammered the global economy.

Immunogenicity blood tests carried out on a subset of older participants echo data released in July which showed AZD1222 generated “robust immune responses” in a group of healthy adults aged between 18 and 55.

“It is encouraging to see immunogenicity responses were similar between older and younger adults and that reactogenicity was lower in older adults, where the COVID-19 disease severity is higher,” an AstraZeneca spokesman said.“The results further build the body of evidence for the safety and immunogenicity of AZD1222.”

Details of the finding are expected to be published shortly in a clinical journal, the FT said. It did not name the publication.

AZD1222 is seen as a frontrunner in the race to produce a vaccine to protect against Covid-19.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said a vaccine was not yet ready though he was preparing logistics for a possible roll-out. He said he expects this to happen in the first half of 2021.

Shares in AstraZeneca were 66p higher at 8,009p as of 11am.

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