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Despite warning, WHO OK with Thai plan of mixing vaccines



PHOTO: The World Health Organisation softened its critical remarks on mixing vaccines. (via Clinical Trials Arena)

Despite an alarming quote from the World Health Organisation’s Chief Scientist warning against mixing vaccines, a WHO representative said after that the organisation is not opposed to Thailand’s mix and match strategy. With the efficacy of the Sinovac vaccine reduced as the Delta variant of Covid-19 becomes the dominant strain in Thailand, officials have approved a plan to administer booster shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine to those who had received 2 doses of Sinovac already, beginning with healthcare workers most at risk of exposure.

Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO Chief Scientist had highlighted the danger of mixing vaccines as very little testing and observation on the practice exists yet resulting in almost no data on the subject so far.

“It’s a little bit of a dangerous trend here. We are in a data-free, evidence-free zone as far as mix and match. It will be a chaotic situation in countries if citizens start deciding when and who will be taking a second, a third and a fourth dose.”

After Thailand’s National Communicable Disease Committee approved the booster shot method mixing vaccines, the acting WHO representative to Thailand addressed the statement with a more muted warning. They said Soumya’s statement was referring more to the risk of insufficient data and the danger of untrained individuals making personal decisions about which vaccines to mix and match. In contrast, national public health sectors working alongside government agencies have access to research and data to help make a more informed decision.

With proper research and careful monitoring, the risk of the unknown with mixing vaccines is reduced. Thailand has currently approved administering an AstraZeneca vaccine 3 to 4 weeks after an initial single Sinovac dose. They have also greenlit an AstraZeneca booster shot for frontline workers and medical staff after over 600 hospital workers vaccinated with 2 Sinovac doses got Covid-19 infections.

Thailand’s health officials confirmed that the decision to mix Sinovac and AstraZeneca came as a result of peer-reviewed local research carried out in Thailand, and manuals would be produced to educate the public and also the staff at vaccination sites.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World


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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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