The government has defended its mix-and-match approach to vaccinating the population, with about 1 million people being first injected with the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine and three weeks later with the AstraZeneca version.
This combination has been proven in studies by the country’s leading teaching universities to provide better protection against COVID-19 infection and decrease the risk of severe disease and death, Apisamai Srirangson, assistant spokeswoman for the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), said on Wednesday.
She cited results of recent studies into the efficacy of combining a first shot of Sinovac COVID-19 with a second shot of AstraZeneca in the government’s vaccine rollout, that were conducted and reported on by the Faculty of Medicine of Chulalongkorn University, Ramathibodi Hospital and Siriraj Hospital.
She was responding to questions as to why the government still plans to procure another 12 million doses of Sinovac despite doubts over the efficacy of the Chinese-made vaccine.
Results of a large-scale study being conducted into the efficacy of the mix-and-match approach to vaccination are expected in about three months from now, said Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control (DDC).
A total of 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be given to the targeted population this year, while 120 million doses of the vaccine — including second-generation COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots — will be given next year, said Dr Karnkawinpong.
No vaccine makers have begun selling a second-generation vaccine for COVID-19 just yet, he said.
At first, the ministry expected 10 million Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccine doses to arrive in the fourth quarter of this year, but the supplier of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine couldn’t meet its target.
Meanwhile, the supplier of the AstraZeneca vaccine has cut supply to only five to six million doses a month, said Dr Srirangson.
So, the ministry has tweaked its procurement plan and ordered more Sinovac for use in the mix-and-match approach, she said.
Meanwhile, Namkhang Phansamrong, a 29-year-old woman in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Pak Thong Chai district who was left in a vegetative state after falling sick two days after receiving a Sinovac dose on 24th May, died on Wednesday.
The DDC had earlier said her condition was not related to the side effects of the vaccine.