Shelter from the cytokine storm: pitfalls and prospects in the development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines for an elderly population.

Ciabattini A, Garagnani P, Santoro F, Rappuoli R, Franceschi C, Medaglini D

Semin Immunopathol 42 (5) 619-634 [2020-10-00; online 2020-11-06]

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic urgently calls for the development of effective preventive tools. COVID-19 hits greatly the elder and more fragile fraction of the population boosting the evergreen issue of the vaccination of older people. The development of a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 tailored for the elderly population faces the challenge of the poor immune responsiveness of the older population due to immunosenescence, comorbidities, and pharmacological treatments. Moreover, it is likely that the inflammaging phenotype associated with age could both influence vaccination efficacy and exacerbate the risk of COVID-19-related "cytokine storm syndrome" with an overlap between the factors which impact vaccination effectiveness and those that boost virulence and worsen the prognosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The complex and still unclear immunopathological mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 infection, together with the progressive age-related decline of immune responses, and the lack of clear correlates of protection, make the design of vaccination strategies for older people extremely challenging. In the ongoing effort in vaccine development, different SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates have been developed, tested in pre-clinical and clinical studies and are undergoing clinical testing, but only a small fraction of these are currently being tested in the older fraction of the population. Recent advances in systems biology integrating clinical, immunologic, and omics data can help to identify stable and robust markers of vaccine response and move towards a better understanding of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine responses in the elderly.

Type: Review

PubMed 33159214

DOI 10.1007/s00281-020-00821-0

Crossref 10.1007/s00281-020-00821-0

pii: 10.1007/s00281-020-00821-0
pmc: PMC7646713

Publications 7.1.2