ECONOMYNEXT – Research supports mixing the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine with a second dose of the Pfizer-BionTech or the Moderna vaccine for effective immunisation against COVID-19, a Sri Lankan microbiology expert said.
Neelika Malavige, Professor in Microbiology at the Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sri Jayewardenepura told the privately owned Derana network on June 15 that mix-n-match trials of AstraZeneca with Pfizer or Moderna in the UK and elsewhere have shown positive results.
Sri Lanka gave the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine to 925,242 people including front line medical workers and military personnel. Only 355,675 have received the second dose so far with some 600,000 more doses still awaiting their second jab.
“So if you had the AstraZeneca and if Moderna or Pfizer was available then it would make sense to take it because the data is there,” said Malavige.
Trials with AstraZeneca and the Russian Sputnik V vaccine have also been conducted, but the data is not available yet, she said.
“But AstraZeneca and the first dose of Sputnik V are adenoviral vectors. So scientifically it makes sense to combine them. Scientifically or theoretically there shouldn’t be any issues. Hopefully the trial results will be available soon,” said Malavige.
“I believe the Ministry of Health is also going to conduct a trial immediately using the Chinese manufactured Sinopharm , because something should be done for the 600,000 people who got the first dose of AstraZeneca,” she added.
Sri Lanka currently has so far administered three types of vaccines; namely Sinopharm, AstraZeneca (under the brand name Covishield) and Sputink V.
Deputy Director of Health Services Dr Hemanth Herath said discussions are now under way about the possibility of conducting trials.
“We are using several vaccines and all these vaccines are new. Much of the information about long term side effects is not yet available. It’s only after further study that we may go for a mix-n-match approach,” said Herath.
“We have to develop experiments and take a decision based on the results. These trials will be conducted by universities speciliased in them and we as the health ministry will facilitate those experiments,” he added.
Herath further said there can be unexpected outcomes. Therefore, vaccines be observed at the proposal stage and further decisions should take by the experts on the field, he added. (Colombo/ June 15/2021)