Mixing vaccines could be winning formula, say experts

19-Jun-2021 Intellasia | FreeMalaysiaToday | 5:02 AM Print This Post

While the government is studying the possibility of using different vaccines for first and second doses to boost resilience to Covid 19 virus variants, health experts are already backing such a move locally after results abroad have shown promise.

During an online talk hosted by the Oxford and Cambridge Society Malaysia, vaccine minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the government was looking into the possibility of using the AstraZeneca vaccine for the first dose and Pfiser for the second.

He said a paper on the method has been submitted to the national vaccination committee.

Former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said this approach could be applicable in the near future, but there was no need to rush its implementation.

“There needs to be more conclusive evidence before it is put into policy,” he told FMT.

“Vaccination practice must be based on science. At the moment, there is preliminary evidence to suggest using different vaccines for first and second jabs,” he added, in reference to studies conducted in Germany and Spain which showed it could build greater resilience.

However, when Oxford Vaccine Group’s Com-Cov trial analysed different vaccine combinations to test immune responses, they found that recipients tended to suffer from side effects more frequently.

Immunologist Sibrandes Poppema, who is the president of Sunway University, said it “makes perfect sense to use a different vaccine as a booster”.

“This is because the two vaccines will have a specific antigen (the Covid-19 Spike protein) in common, while other antigen determinants of the AstraZeneca adenovirus will not be presented again (with the Pfiser second shot). Hence, the immune response against the Covid antigen is likely to be stronger.”

He said that while this practice has not been widely used in human vaccines in the market, it is common practice in clinical trials on mice and has shown considerable success in that application.

Azrul Mohd Khalib, CEO of the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy, agreed that mixing vaccines is a useful tactic to consider, both due to strong early trial results and the flexibility it could afford health authorities should supply issues arise in the future.

“It would definitely be a good, science-based solution to addressing these supply issues that we are currently facing,” he said, adding that it would provide the government with options should either Pfiser and AstraZeneca’s vaccines become difficult to procure during the rollout.

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Category: Malaysia

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