Govât experts consider mixing coronavirus vaccine brands as supply dries up
Senior citizens with comorbidity and frontliners line up at Pinyahan Elementary School in Quezon City during the continuation of inoculation of Sinovac vaccine on April, 14, 2021.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

Gov’t experts consider mixing coronavirus vaccine brands as supply dries up

Xave Gregorio (Philstar.com) - April 21, 2021 - 5:49pm

MANILA, Philippines — A health official said Wednesday that government experts are considering recommending using a different coronavirus vaccine brand for the second dose of those who have received the AstraZeneca shot as supply of the jab is running low.

“They are also toying [with] the idea that there will be a different second dose,” Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje told a congressional inquiry. “But hindi pa po sure kung ano ‘yung final recommendation (But their final recommendation is still unsure.)”

Cabotaje said that as long as coronavirus vaccines use the same platform, there should be no problem with using a different vaccine brand as the second dose. 

“Although mas gusto kasi natin the same brand, para kapag nag-adverse event, mapi-pinpoint po na itong brand na ito nangyari,” she said.

(Although we would prefer to use the same brand, so that if there are adverse events, we can pinpoint what brand caused it.)

AstraZeneca’s shot is a viral vector vaccine that uses a modified, non-replicating chimpanzee adenovirus that contains the gene for the coronavirus spike protein. Gamaleya Institute’s Sputnik V vaccine uses a similar platform.

Why mix?

The Department of Health said last week that there is still no sufficient evidence which says that vaccine brands can be mixed.

“Ang posisyon, whatever brand na nabakuna sa inyo, iyan pa rin ang second dose niyo,” DOH spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire told a news conference.

(Our position is that whatever brand is administered to you, that will still be your second dose.)

But the administration of the second dose, most especially for those who were given AstraZeneca’s shot, rests on the delivery of more doses manufactured by the British-Swedish drugmaker as all initial doses of that vaccine were given as first shots — a move that was approved by President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said during the same congressional inquiry that more AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines could be arriving in the Philippines this month and next month, although he could not say exactly how many doses would arrive and when exactly they would reach the country.

Is it safe?

Health experts abroad generally agree that mixing and matching vaccines should be safe.

However, the United States Centers for Disease Control said that COVID-19 vaccines approved there, made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, are “not interchangeable” as “the safety and efficacy of a mixed-product series have not been evaluated.”

In the United Kingdom, mixing vaccines is being tested under the Com-Cov study, which is looking into whether combining them can give broader, longer-lasting immunity against the coronavirus and its variants.

But Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy (Bagong Henerasyon party-list), who grilled Cabotaje on the availability of a second dose, is still wary of the safety of mixing different vaccine brands and its potential to make an already vaccine-hesitant country more apprehensive about the shots.

“Nakakatakot naman ‘yong ganyan. Kahit kunyari, na-vaccine ka ng iba, tapos hindi dumating ‘yan, iisipin na iva-vaccine ka ng ibang klaseng brand, medyo lalong lalaki ang fear ng ating mga tao kapag ganyan,” Herrera-Dy said.

(That’s scary. For example, you get the vaccine, and more doses of it do not arrive, we’ll think that we would get vaccinated with a different brand, that would create more fear among our people.)

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