FDA: Mix-and-match technique with Sinovac vaccine still up in the air

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 9) — The Philippine government has not yet given the go-signal to mix other brands with China's Sinovac vaccine.

Food and Drug Administration Director General Eric Domingo told CNN Philippines' The Source on Friday that a mix-and-match approach for COVID-19 vaccine brands has only been proven effective by a United Kingdom-funded study, at least on Pfizer and AstraZeneca brands.

He said the country is still waiting for the results of the study by the Department of Science and Technology on a similar method with Sinovac's CoronaVac.

"Theoretically hindi naman siya masama," Domingo explained. "Mukhang makakatulong naman kaya lang hindi pa nga natin documented. But this will be a part of the study that the DOST will be doing. Kasama na sa vaccine efficacy nila ang possible mixing and matching."

[Translation: Theoretically it's not bad. It looks like it will be helpful although we have not documented this yet. But this will be a part of the study that the DOST will be doing. The vaccine efficacy will include the possible mixing and matching.]

"(Since we are) one of the countries that are using more Sinovac than other brands and it’s not being studied by other countries now, so we're going to have to do it ourselves," he said.

Domingo said the DOST could also look into the efficacy of the China-made vaccine as a booster or third dose.

The DOST's study, which runs from June 2021 to November 2022, primarily seeks to evaluate Sinovac's effectivity when administered as first dose, and eventually combined with other available brands in the country.

Meanwhile, Domingo said the government also has to further assess the UK study which reported a strong immune response brought by the mixing and matching of AstraZeneca and Pfizer doses.

Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega previously said larger clinical trials still have to be performed before this approach can be added in the national vaccination program.

"Kaya nga if we are going to make a mix-and-match program, we have to check each and every combination including yung kung papaano yung succession of doses," Domingo said.

[Translation: If we are going to make a mix-and-match program, we have to check each and every combination including the succession of doses.]

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

The Philippines has received 12 million Sinovac doses out of the 18.5 million vaccines shipped to the country to date.

As of Thursday, 9.4 million Filipinos have received their first dose while 3.2 million are fully vaccinated — still far from the government's target of 70 million by yearend to achieve herd immunity.