Health Ministry may launch mix-match study
2 years ago
By Buddhika Samaraweera Although the Health Ministry on its own accord is currently not conducting any studies on the mixing and matching of Covid-19 vaccines, it would initiate a study or assign the task to a competent body if local and international studies on the matter prove inconclusive, the Ministry said yesterday (15). Deputy Director General of Public Health Services and Disaster Preparedness and Response Division Head Dr. Hemantha Herath told The Morning that the Ministry will first give due consideration to the findings of the ongoing studies in other parts of the world and studies that are being carried out by local institutions. However, if institutions such as the Medical Research Institute, universities, or other institutions wish to conduct a study in this regard, the administrative clearance needed for it would be given by the Health Ministry, he said. When queried as to whether the Ministry has reached any conclusion regarding the mixing and matching of Covid-19 vaccines, such as the administration of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as the second dose for those who received their first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covishield Covid-19 vaccine, Dr. Herath said a final decision would be reached based on the results of the ongoing studies. He said that the mixing and matching of vaccines was a complex matter and could not be concluded until a proper study was done. However, he said that in order to obtain accurate information regarding its effectiveness, it would have to be given to a large number of people and that it would be somewhat problematic in the Sri Lankan scenario, as only about 600,000 people in the country are expected to receive the second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Meanwhile, University of Sri Jayewardenepura Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine Head Prof. Neelika Malavige, participating in a discussion on Ada Derana yesterday, said data has been released by research authorities that the mixing and matching of the AstraZeneca vaccines and the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines is effective. “Several countries have mixed and matched vaccines like AstraZeneca with Pfizer or Moderna effectively. How this is done is by receiving the first dose of AstraZeneca and the second dose from Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Sri Lanka’s Health Ministry is also currently considering this,” she stated. Prof. Malavige also stated that the possibility of mixing and matching Sputnik and Sinopharm vaccines with the AstraZeneca vaccine is also being tested worldwide, but no data has been released as of yet. “We have to find a way to inoculate everyone in the country in a safe and effective method. Therefore, we are on alert to any new research made on the mixing and matching of vaccines,” she said.