The government is going ahead with its plan to mix doses of the Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha clarified he is not against cross-vaccination.
Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri spoke on Wednesday to dispel confusion among hospitals and health officers after Prime Minister Chan-o-cha called for a thorough study of the jab policy shift during Tuesday’s teleconferenced cabinet meeting.
Gen Chan-o-cha wants to take into account the safety of vaccine recipients, he said.
The prime minister’s reaction followed a warning from the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday that individuals should not mix and match different vaccines.
“Individuals should not decide for themselves, public health agencies can, based on available data. Data from mix and match studies of different vaccines are awaited – immunogenicity and safety both need to be evaluated,” WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said.
Virus expert Yong Poovorawan on Tuesday was adamant that mixing Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines is safe and that it is Thailand’s best option in the fight against the fast-spreading Delta variant.
On Wednesday, Mr Burapachaisri said the prime minister did not order the plan to be cancelled but merely hoped the committee would listen to more reactions first.
“The prime minister has no policy to stop the mixing of doses. He asks that all sides be receptive to the view of the National Communicable Disease Committee about cross-doses and that they make careful consideration.”
The government’s priority was to see more people inoculated, as that would reduce the rate of daily fatalities and new infections, he added.
Mr Burapachaisri said the Delta variant’s rampant spread and easy transmission was wreaking havoc in Thailand and around the world. The surge in infections and fatalities can be curbed with more people getting immunised.
Meanwhile, the provincial health office in Nonthaburi on Wednesday opted to postpone its plan to give people who have received a single dose of the Sinovac vaccine a follow-up dose of AstraZeneca as their second jab.
Nonthaburi was the first province to announce it was embracing the ministry’s new cross-dose policy after it was endorsed by the National Communicable Disease Committee on Monday. The panel was chaired by Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.
Nonthaburi announced its decision on Tuesday, only to immediately suspend its implementation on Wednesday morning.
In Chiang Mai, the provincial public health office also announced its suspension. “In order to end the confusion, all health units are ordered to stop vaccine services on 14th July,” Hang Dong Hospital said on its Facebook account.
Mr Charnvirakul said the committee meeting on Monday concluded the mixing of Sinovac for the first dose with AstraZeneca for the second would yield a better defence against the Delta variant, which was first detected in India.