DOH official optimistic but bigger trials needed for COVID-19 vaccine mix-and-match

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 1) — A Health Department official noted the efficacy of mixing and matching AstraZeneca and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines in creating a strong immune response based on a study in the United Kingdom, but emphasized the need for larger clinical trials.

Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega emphasized the generation of a good quantity of antibodies and cell-mediated immunity in the study, which he described as “very effective” in terms of the results.

“But this is just a very preliminary study,” explained Vega, who is also the country’s treatment czar.

International news outlets reported this week on the Comparing COVID-19 Vaccine Schedule Combinations (Com-COV) trial’s results so far, which point to a good immune response after implementing a mixed schedule of the said vaccine brands on participants. 

The trial also aims to determine how common vaccine side effects will manifest after mixed schedules of administering doses, noting this will create “a more flexible immunization program, potentially allowing more people to be immunized more quickly.”

“We still have to make use of the bigger clinical trials, which is actually the same vaccines, the same platforms,” he added.

Still, the official noted a flexibility in mixing and matching different vaccine brands may be recommended later on because of the study.

“So probably in the near future a bigger study has to be concluded. I think this will be a better prospective or advantage for countries wherein the vaccines are limited,” said Vega, adding that such an approach will help the national vaccination program.

Pfizer and AstraZeneca are among the COVID-19 vaccine brands administered in the Philippines alongside Sinovac, Sputnik V, and Moderna.

The Philippines breached the 10-million mark in total doses administered this week. It hopes to fully inoculate 70 million Filipinos against COVID-19 by year-end.