Mixing two vaccines “seems to work well”: WHO scientist


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Swaminathan said heterologous prime-boost vaccination or vaccination using a combination of vaccines could be of great help for those countries where people have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine but are now facing shortages instead of boosters

As governments and pharmaceutical companies around the world prepare to release boosters targeting more contagious virus variants, World Health Organization (WHO) chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan said countries where people have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine but are now facing shortages do not need to rely on them. Swaminathan said heterologous prime-boost immunization or immunization using a combination of vaccines could be of great help for these countries instead.

WHO defines heterologous prime-boost immunization as a form of vaccination in which two different vectors or delivery systems expressing the same or overlapping antigenic inserts are administered.

Read also : South Korea to mix and match Pfizer and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines

“It seems to work well, this heterologous prime-boost concept,” Swaminathan said in a recent interview with Zoom. “This opens up the possibility for countries that have vaccinated people with a vaccine and are now waiting for the second dose that they are running out of, to potentially be able to use a different platform vaccine,” she said, outlining its benefits. .

She further cited data from the UK, Spain and Germany which suggests that the ‘mix-and-match’ diet involving two different types of COVID-19 vaccines generates a more robust immune response (higher levels virus-blocking antibodies and white blood cells that kill cells infected with the virus) even if there are side effects such as pain, fever and other minor side effects.

Malaysia is also considering using combinations of AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech injections to speed up inoculations, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said earlier this week. week.

Read also : COVID-19 vaccines: No mixing of different doses; stick to SOPs, government says

Swaminathan’s speech for the combination vaccination was supported by several experts. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Vaccine Education Center director Paul Offit said inoculation using a combination of jabs may offer longer immunity or fewer side effects for some people, adding that the basic requirement of a vaccine is to protect against hospitalization, ICU admission and death.

“With that bar, we would probably need a vaccine maybe every three to five years,” he said in a STAT podcast.

Edited by Mehak Agarwal

Read also : India to test mix of two different COVID-19 vaccines soon

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