ECONOMYNEXT – The Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) has recommended administering Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or AstraZeneca as the third dose for people over 60.
Citing research conducted in the Middle East, an SLMA statement said the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine is shown to be less effective for the over-60 population category.
The medical body has made a set of recommendations for Sri Lanka’s vaccine rollout, after analysing international data.
“Researches done in Bahrain and Middle Eastern countries using four types of vaccines, Sinopharm, Pfizer, Sputnik V and AstraZeneca, have shown that the fatality rate and severe case rates have gone down due to vaccination,” consultant Immunologist and head of the department of Immunology at the Medical Research Institute Sri Lanka Rajeev De Silva told reporters on Sunday (05).
“However, from the deaths that occurred even after being completely vaccinated, most had been given the Sinopharm vaccine,” he said.
Silva said, quoting a study done by the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, around seven percent of the above 60 population that get Sinopharm did not produce any antibody in them.
“Sinopharm is a good, strong vaccine. Around 90 percent who got the vaccine have produced antibodies in them. But there is a small number that does not respond to the vaccine,” he said.
Silva said taking the unresponsive number into consideration and after analyzing the data, the SLMA has recommended that third dose be administered to those above 60 years of age who had received Sinopharm with AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna.
“The third dose should be given one month after giving the second dose,” Silva said.
Silva said, even though the Sinopharm vaccine’s effectiveness reduces for the above 60 age category, it is highly recommended for those aged 18 to 60 years.
“If there is anyone above 18 that did not get vaccinated, we ask them to do it as soon as possible. The data on COVID-19 deaths shows that 90 percent of the deaths were of people who were not vaccinated. And most of them have other comorbidities,” Silva said.
“People 18- 60 should get Sinopharm. They get a strong protection from that.”
Further explaining the recommendations of the SLMA, Silva said some children above 12 who have certain medical conditions would not have any positive reaction to the vaccines.
Antibody formation post-vaccination may not occur in patients who had an organ transplant operation such as kidney, bone marrow, cancer patients, patients under other strong medications and dialysis patients due to the existing medical condition, Silva said.
“In a USA study it has shown that HIV patients who did not produce antibodies even after the second shot will have a 30 – 50 percent antibody formation after a third dose from one of Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna vaccine,” he said.
“For children with comorbidities between the ages 12 and 18, after analysing studies done by other medical research teams around the world, we recommend the Pfizer vaccine which has provides good protection.”
The Pfizer shot can be given as the second dose for Sputnik first dose recipients if there is any delay or issue in obtaining the second dose of the Russian vaccine, he said.
“People over 60 who got vaccinated with Pfizer, AstarZenca or Moderna will have good protection for about six months, so we recommend a third dose of the same vaccine after six months.”
State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) Chairman Dr Prasanna Gunasena said the National Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases has been advised to be prepared for the rollout of a booster shot by the end of the year.
“We have been advised to prepare for a third dose by November or December to give the high risk population and people who are in high risk areas, ” Gunasena told reporters on August 28.
Gunasesna said different variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, forms when a higher virus load is present and is spreading in the community.
“If we need to reduce that load, we need to vaccinate more people. In other words, we need to have a wider coverage,” Gunasena said.
“A booster is needed if the immunity in the body is reduced after being fully vaccinated. According to our data, it will start to drop about five to six months after. Other countries who are giving a third dose have also prioritised high risk people and highly exposed people.”
The SPC chief said eight million doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine that’s due in September can be used to vaccinate the over-18 demographic with no hassle.
“We will get another four million doses of Sinopharm in October. By then, if it is necessary we can go for a booster dose, because by then most would’ve been vaccinated for five months,” he said.
Sri Lanka started vaccinating people aged 20 to 29 in Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara and Galle districts on Monday (6).
So far health authorities have administrated 12,823,147 with the first dose of a vaccine and 9,414,851 have been fully vaccinated. (Colombo/Sep07/2021)