UK conducts trials on ‘mixing’ covid-19 vaccines

What are the effects of giving people different coronavirus vaccines?

Scientists in the UK have begun the first study on the effect of giving people different coronavirus vaccines in their first and second doses. The idea is to examine whether this approach works equally well as the current method where one vaccine is administered twice. 

A favorable outcome would greatly help during the vaccine’s rollout and deal with any supply disruption. Some scientists believe that mixing jabs will provide better protection.   Despite the new trials, Nadhim Zahawi, who heads the coronavirus vaccine deployment has detailed how a government task force has been issued with £7m to fund this study, and findings won’t be available to the public till summer.  

JVCI advise

This is in accordance with the official position of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, issued on 30 December 2020. As per the advice, a 2-dose vaccine is recommended as it offers longer-lasting protection. JVCI advises prioritizing the administration of the first dose to as many people as possible over the second dose, not forgetting a concentrated focus on highly vulnerable people. 

Also read: Novavax Covid-19 vaccine proves 89% effective in UK clinical trials

Mr. Zahawi questioned

During an interview with BBC Breakfast’s Naga Munchety, the MP was pressed on vaccination numbers where he declined to give a precise date on when the first nine groups on the priority list will have received their first jab doses. Mr. Zahawi pointed out that they have vaccinated 600,000 people in a single day and should hit five million people within the next 10 days or so. Alluding to the mid-month target of February 15, Mr. Zahawi was upbeat over the vaccine distribution infrastructure they had created. He expressed optimism on achieving their goals provided there is no disruption in the supply of vaccines. The UK hopes to administer the first dose of the vaccine to groups they deem as vulnerable - people over 70, frontline health and social care workers. 

During the interview, Zahawi mentioned how the Ebola immunization programmes could offer some insights into mixing vaccine jabs, as it was proved beneficial in that instance. He also explained how this has proved beneficial with other vaccines such as hepatitis, rubella, polio and measles, and mumps. 

The ‘mixed-vaccine’ study

The Com-Cov study will be conducted by the National Immunisation Schedule Evaluation Consortium involving over 800 volunteers. This study recruits people aged 50 and over who are yet to receive a covid jab in Liverpool, Birmingham, London, Oxford, Nottingham, Southampton, and Bristol. Some participants will receive the Oxford jab followed by the Pfizer and vice versa, anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks apart. Other vaccines can be added to the programme depending on the recommendation of regulators. 

At present, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the WHO do not recommend mixing coronavirus vaccine doses as no verified data exists that proves whether doing so offers an enhanced level of protection. 

UK Vaccine rollout

The United Kingdom has suffered the worst of the coronavirus outbreak and ranks as the country with the worst number of deaths, proportionate to its population. Thus far over 10 million people, 15% of the population have received at least one dose of the vaccine. A good number of countries are facing challenges in the supply, rollout, and distribution of the vaccine. 

Also read Portugal: Hospitals overwhelmed as Austria and Germany offer help

It was only last week when a spat erupted between the United Kingdom and the European Union when the latter alleged that Astrazeneca wanted to renege on their earlier agreement and supply “fewer” vaccines due to production challenges. 

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Wanted in Europe, part of the Wanted Worldwide network, is a website in English for expatriates in Europe established in 2006. We cover Europe's news stories that may be of interest to English speaking residents along with tourists as well. Our publication also offers classifieds, photos, information on events, museums, churches, galleries, exhibits, fashion, food, and local travel.
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