Mix and match COVID-19 vaccination seems to be working well, says WHO Chief Scientist


New Delhi: Amid the reports of more infectious COVID-19 variants, many scientists and health experts are recommending a combination of COVID-19 vaccine which is believed to offer protection against variants and longer immunity. 

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan stated that the combination of COVID-19 vaccines seems to be working well against coronavirus variants across the globe. 

“It seems to be working well, this concept of heterologous prime-boost. This opens up the opportunity for countries that have vaccinated people with one vaccine and now are waiting for the second dose they have run out of, to potentially be able to use a different platform vaccine,” said the World Health Organization’s chief scientist.

As per a report in Bloomberg, Soumya Swaminathan revealed that early data from the UK, Spain and Germany suggest a “mix-and-match” regimen, which is using two different types of vaccines, generates more pain, fever and other minor side effects compared with two doses of the same inoculation.

Swaminathan added that the so-called heterologous prime-boost combinations appear to spur a more robust immune response, leading to both higher levels of virus-blocking antibodies and the white blood cells that kill virus-infected cells.

Meanwhile, many countries have already started testing combinations of COVID-19 vaccines, Swaminathan said, adding that Malaysia is considering a combination of the AstraZeneca Plc and Pfizer-BioNTech shots. Science, Technology and Innovation Minister of Malaysia, Khairy Jamaluddin said that the government is trying to speed up immunizations to achieve population-level immunity by year-end.

“It seems to be working well, this concept of heterologous prime-boost,” Swaminathan said. “This opens up the opportunity for countries that have vaccinated people with one vaccine and now are waiting for the second dose they have run out of, to potentially be able to use a different platform vaccine.”

WHO chief scientist also added that even though some pharmaceutical officials are preparing for COVID booster shots, many believe that it’s too early to tell if they will be required.

“We do not have the information that’s necessary to make the recommendation on whether or not a booster will be needed,” Swaminathan said.

Lastly, WHO chief scientist pointed out that the science around COVID-19 is still evolving and is premature. 

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