Some experts worry that the vaccines may not even reach the WHO-recommended 50% efficacy threshold for vaccine candidates eligible for use.
Immunosenescence – or the immune system loses its vigor in older people – is perhaps one of the factors why Covid-19 has disproportionately affected older people in many countries. What makes matters worse, however, is the fact that it is likely to interfere with vaccine protection in the elderly. Some experts are concerned that the vaccines may not even reach the 50% efficacy threshold that the WHO has recommended for candidate vaccines eligible for use.
While some vaccines have reported equal effectiveness in older and younger people, others have shown a significantly reduced response in older people. As countries develop their vaccine deployment plans – India targets, among others, older people with co-morbidities for the first vaccines that will be available in the country – they must address this issue.
In such a context, interventions that will stimulate the immune system of the elderly, as Nature reports, could become very important. A high potential intervention could be a class of antiaging drugs that inhibit a protein called mTOR which is a key part of cell growth pathways. A 2018 study of 264 participants who received a low-dose mTOR inhibitor showed that those who received the drug had a lower incidence of infections and responded better to the flu vaccine.
At a time when there are uncertainties about the effectiveness and length of protection of a Covid-19 vaccine, the best solution for India and other countries would be to consider supplements that increase the chances that people vulnerable get appropriate protection.
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