WHO warns of ‘chaos’ if individuals mix Covid vaccines

WHO warns of ‘chaos’ if individuals mix Covid vaccines
Vials with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine labels are seen in this illustration picture taken March 19, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

The World Health Organization is now warning against the mixing of COVID-19 vaccines, terming it as a dangerous trend.

WHO says the available data on the impact of mixing vaccines made by different companies, is too little to determine its safety.

The development comes amid a supply crisis of the AstraZeneca vaccine that has forced several countries to seek alternatives in other vaccines.

​ The announcement by W.H.O could is a major setback for countries that have opted to mix vaccine products owing to the supply crisis in parts of the world..Kenya is among the countries facing a major shortage of fresh supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccine for the second dose.

The crisis occasioned by India’s decision to stop exports of vaccines produced by its Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine maker, following a spike of cases in that country.

Kenya’s ministry of health has remained cautious about any possibility of getting a different vaccine to bridge the deficit, but countries like Canada have gone ahead to mix and match the vaccines.
But now W.H.O’s chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan is firing a warning shot, terming this trend as dangerous, owing to inadequate data about its impacts.

” It will be a chaotic situation in countries if citizens start deciding when and who will be taking a second, a third and a fourth dose.” Dr. Soumya Swaminatha said.

In June this year, infectious disease experts said the Pfizer vaccine could be used as a second dose after an initial dose of AstraZeneca, if the latter was not available.

But WHO seems to disagree calling it all, a ‘data free zone’.

Earlier this year, the makers of the AstraZeneca vaccine looked at combining a first shot of its vaccine with a second shot of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

Preliminary results from a University of Oxford study published on May 12 found that mixing the Pfizer-BioNtech and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines may increase the frequency of mild to moderate side effects.

But these symptoms were short-lived — lasting no longer than a few days — and there were no hospitalizations or other safety concerns.

Some countries are already using mixed doses.

Spain and Germany are offering the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines as a second dose to younger people who have already received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, following concerns about rare but serious blood clots, rather than about efficacy.

But as Kenya weighs its options, experts are keeping a keen eye on infection trends in Kenya.

For the first time in several weeks, the positivity has surpassed the 10 per cent, jumping to 13.1 per cent in the last 24 hours.

761 positive cases out of 5,794 samples. Nine people succumbed to the disease within the same period, bringing Kenya’s fatalities to 3732, so far.

Experts had predicted that the fourth wave of the pandemic would peak in the country in the middle of this month, a projection that has since been reviewed, but the trends in the near future remain uncertain.

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