Teaching Old Immune Systems New Tricks

Aging immune systems are not good at detecting and fighting off novel pathogens—and that poses a special challenge to researchers racing to create a vaccine for COVID-19, which has proven deadlier for older people.

“The people who need the vaccine the most may actually be the people in whom the vaccine might not work,” says WHO vaccine research coordinator Martin Friede.

Researchers are drawing on experience with influenza vaccines, which tend to be less protective for older people. But tweaking vaccines—boosting immune-stimulating ingredients, for example—has fueled misinformation from anti-vaxxers in the past, which doctors fear will hinder uptake for a COVID-19 vaccine.

National Geographic

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