mRNA vaccination in people over 80 years of age induces strong humoral immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 with cross neutralization of P.1 Brazilian variant

Age is the major risk factor for mortality after SARS-CoV-2 infection and older people have received priority consideration for COVID-19 vaccination. However, vaccine responses are often suboptimal in this age group and few people over the age of 80 years were included in vaccine registration trials. We determined the serological and cellular response to spike protein in 100 people aged 80–96 years at 2 weeks after the second vaccination with the Pfizer BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine. Antibody responses were seen in every donor with high titers in 98%. Spike-specific cellular immune responses were detectable in only 63% and correlated with humoral response. Previous SARS-CoV-2 infection substantially increased antibody responses after one vaccine and antibody and cellular responses remained 28-fold and 3-fold higher, respectively, after dual vaccination. Post-vaccine sera mediated strong neutralization of live Victoria infection and although neutralization titers were reduced 14-fold against the P.1 variant first discovered in Brazil they remained largely effective. These data demonstrate that the mRNA vaccine platform delivers strong humoral immunity in people up to 96 years of age and retains broad efficacy against the P.1 variant of concern.

Author list



  1. Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom; 
  2. Clinical Lead, Quinton and Harborne PCN, Ridgacre House Surgery, United Kingdom; 
  3. Vaccine Taskforce, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, United Kingdom; 
  4. National infection Service, Public Health England, United Kingdom; 
  5. National infection Service, Public Health England, Porton Down, United Kingdom; 
  6. Oxford Immunotec Ltd, United Kingdom


Helen Parry, Gokhan Tut, Rachel Bruton, Sian Faustini, Christine Stephens, Philip Saunders, Christopher Bentley, Katherine Hilyard, Kevin Brown, Gayatri Amirthalingam, Sue Charlton, Stephanie Leung, Emily Chiplin,Naomi S Coombes, Kevin R Bewley, Elizabeth J Penn, Cathy Rowe, Ashley Otter, Rosie Watts, Silvia D'Arcangelo,Bassam Hallis, Andrew Makin, Alex Richter, Jianmin Zuo, Paul Moss  

    Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2