The potential coronavirus vaccine being developed by the Oxford University and drug manufacturer AstraZeneca has produced strong immune responses in older adults, data published in medical journal The Lancet, showed on Thursday.

“...Our vaccine was not only well tolerated in older adults, it also stimulated similar immune responses to those seen in younger volunteers,” Dr Maheshi Ramasamy, investigator at the Oxford Vaccine Group, said in an official statement.

The second phase trial was conducted between May 30 and August 8 on 560 participants, divided into three age groups: 18-55 years, 56-69 years, and 70 years and older.

The data from the trial suggests that those aged over 70, who are at higher risk of serious illness and death from Covid-19, could build a robust immunity with the vaccine’s help.

“To show this vaccine technology is able to induce these responses, in the age group most at risk from severe Covid-19 disease, offers hope that vaccine efficacy will be similar in younger and older adults,” Dr Angela Minassian, investigator at the Oxford university said.

The late-stage or third phase trial results for the vaccine are expected to be released by Christmas, according to Reuters. Researchers quoted by the news agency said that the phase 3 trials will test whether the vaccine protects against infection with in a broad range of people, including people with underlying health conditions.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca potential coronavirus vaccine has been one of the frontrunners in efforts to develop shots to protect against the coronavirus. However, over the last few days, other potential vaccines from rivals Moderna and Pfizer have shown 94.5% and 95% effectiveness, respectively, in late-stage trials.

In India, biotechnology company Bharat Biotech on Monday said it has begun the phase 3 clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine candidate Covaxin, with 26,000 participants across 22 sites in the country.

India has not yet signed a deal to procure any of the vaccines.

Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 5.61 crore people and killed 13,48,348, according to the Johns Hopkins University. More than 3.60 crore people have recovered from the infection.

Follow today’s updates on coronavirus