Vaccine expert panel rejects proposal to shorten interval between doses of COVID-19 shots

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 30) — The government's vaccine expert panel has rejected the proposal of OCTA Research to shorten the interval between two doses of COVID-19 vaccines, especially Sinovac and AstraZeneca shots, because doing so may result in lower antibody responses.

Dr. Nina Gloriani, head of the Department of Science and Technology's vaccine expert panel, said studies have shown that shortening the interval between the first and second dose of Sinovac vaccine to 14 days from 28 days will lead to lower antibody responses. AstraZeneca vaccine, on the other hand, is more effective if the interval is prolonged to 12 weeks.

"Ang data ngayon is showing, for most of these vaccines, mas mahaba-haba iyong interval, mas mataas iyong antibody levels," she said during a Palace briefing.

[Translation: Latest data shows, for most of these vaccines, the longer the interval, the higher the antibody levels.]

"Hindi natin puwedeng bilisan. Maaaring mataas pero bababa rin po agad iyan; in the long term, hindi po siya mabuti," she added.

[Translation: We cannot speed up. Levels may rise but may also decline fast; this is not good in the long term.]

Earlier, OCTA Research fellow Nic Austriaco called on the government to shorten the intervel between two doses to speed up the immunization program amid the threat of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

Currently, the government has received almost 33 million doses and over 17 million of which are Sinovac.

At least 18 million shots have been administered and more than 7 million are now fully vaccinated, but this is still far from the government's target to vaccinate 70 million to achieve herd immunity.