News

Vaccine mix-and-match: SL should consider: Immunologists  

  • Immunologists point to Pfizer-BioNTech-AstraZeneca, Sputnik V-Sinopharm-AstraZeneca combos 

  • Safe, effective vaccination of all, a timely need: Prof. Malavige 

  • Depends on tech comm. review: Health Ministry    

By Yumiko Perera

 

Many countries the world over have adopted the mix-and-match approach with regard to Covid-19 vaccines, and have used the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as the second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine, and this is something Sri Lanka should consider, local immunologists suggested. 

While data has been released by a number of research authorities that the mix-and-match of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines is effective, more research is being conducted in this regard across the world. 

Speaking with The Sunday Morning, Sri Jayewardenepura University’s Allergy, Immunology, and Cell Biology Unit’s Director Dr. Chandima Jeewandara said: “A lot of countries have been using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as the second dose for those who received their first in the form of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and there has been data and research published in this regard, as it is being done in quite a lot of other countries. Therefore, it is most definitely an option we could consider.” 

According to Sri Jayewardenepura University’s Immunology and Molecular Medicine Department’s Head Prof. Neelika Malavige, there is a possibility of mixing and matching the Russian Sputnik V and Chinese Sinopharm vaccines with the AstraZeneca vaccine.  

However, she observed that although it is being tested worldwide, sufficient data in this regard has not been released as of yet. 

Reiterating that the need of the hour is to inoculate everyone in the country in a safe and effective manner, and emphasising that the country needs to come up with a way to immunise everyone in the country effectively, she further said that they are keeping an eye out for new research being conducted on the mix-and-match of vaccines. 

Furthermore, Health Ministry Public Health Services Deputy Director General, Disaster Preparedness and Response Division Head, and Communications Director Dr. Hemantha Herath, speaking with The Sunday Morning, said: “There are several publications and research in this regard. However, we have a professional and technical committee that analyses and reviews these. We can only make decisions after taking the reviews into account. As of now, we haven’t made any decisions in that regard, as we are still in the process of reviewing that evidence.” 

Several attempts made by The Sunday Morning to contact Primary Healthcare, Epidemics, and Covid-19 Disease Control State Minister Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle proved futile.