Malaysia May Authorise Mixing AstraZeneca and Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccines To Protect Against More Covid Strains

Written by Dr. K. on 18 June 2021

KEY POINTS:
  • Malaysia may approve mixing two vaccines, AstraZeneca as first dose, and Pfizer as second dose, to improve vaccination effectiveness rates.
  • Studies from Germany reveal this heterologous method can offer protection against more covid-19 strains.
  • Malaysia faces vaccine supply delays and limitations.

The Malaysian Government is now investigating the possibility of heterologous immunizations, a combination of two distinct kinds of vaccines, to be used as part of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP), Coordinating Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said.

Speaking during a webinar hosted by the Oxford & Cambridge Alumni Network Malaysia, Khairy highlighted how the data of recipients being given the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines as their first and second dosage showed encouraging results in improving vaccination effectiveness rates.

He added evidence from studies done in Germany showed that using the heterologous method may enhance the neutralising antibodies inside the recipient which eventually would protect them against the development of new Covid-19 variations.

“We have some real-world data that we received from Germany about heterologous vaccinations using AstraZeneca for the first dose and the Pfizer vaccine for the second dose which has been shown to boost the neutralising antibodies and to be more effective against variants”, Khairy said during the webinar.

“We are watching this very closely. We don’t want to make a quick decision before getting more data,” he emphasised.

The Vaccine Selection Technical Working Group, chaired by Institute of Clinical Research director, Dr. P. Kalairasu, presented the proposal to use the heterologous vaccination method during last week’s NIP committee meeting, Khairy added.

Khairy said that after sufficient data is analysed, the NIP’s working technical group would make suggestions to the committee before he and Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba decide as the NIP’s co-chairs.

Due to present supply limitations, he said, the government is also considering heterologous vaccines.

“Once the working group is clear on this, they will hand over advice to the committee that I and chair with the health minister and we will implement heterologous vaccinations; it is possible that we will end up doing this.”

“Also, when you are facing vaccine supply constraints, you can mix things up and ensure that the effect of the vaccine is still there,” Khairy added.

This comes after preliminary findings from a German study involving just 26 young patients suggested that combining AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccine doses may result in immunological responses that are up to four times greater than if two doses of the same vaccination were given.

The research revealed that heterologous vaccination techniques were more successful in neutralising antibodies and protecting patients from new Covid-19 strains like the Alpha and Beta covid-19 strains.

The data also revealed that repeated doses of either vaccination were also found to have a tendency to become less effective over time and also shown to have greater side effects with repeated doses.

When asked about shortening the AstraZeneca dosing interval due to presence of variants, Khairy said the problem Malaysia was currently facing was a vaccine supply shortage.

Current expert working groups have recommended 12 weeks of interval for AstraZeneca.

“Part of the AstraZeneca supply from the Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access (Covax) programme was delayed, and delays are also expected for the AstraZeneca supply from Thailand.”

“So, we are recalculating our schedule right now, on whether we can shorten the interval period of AstraZeneca."

“According to them, that’s the most efficacious outcome of AstraZeneca dosing interval. Therefore, we went with 12 weeks, based on the science, data, and the fact that we want to get as many people (vaccinated) as possible.”

“Now with the presence of the variants, it suggests that you might want to reduce the interval."

Source:

Sources:

Malay Mail
New Straits Times
Bernama

Referenced on 18.6.2021

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