Medical school deans back govt's mixed jabs policy

Medical school deans back govt's mixed jabs policy

Deans of 10 medical schools have thrown their support behind the government's plan to mix Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines to increase protection against the fast-spreading Delta variant.

Their move follows public confusion as well as criticism about the plan to mix vaccines. Maharat Nakhon Ratchasima Hospital on Thursday announced the suspension of Covid-19 vaccination services from today, blaming it on the government's confusing vaccination policy.

The government this week changed its vaccination policy to allow "cross-vaccination" or the mix of Sinovac and AstraZeneca jabs.

The change was announced after the National Communicable Diseases Committee convened to discuss measures on how to deal with the Delta strain, which was first detected in India and is rapidly becoming the dominant strain in Thailand. Under the new vaccination plan, the AstraZeneca jab will be administered three to four weeks after the first Sinovac injection.

In their remarks, the deans, who are also advisers in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, backed the committee, saying the decision needs support from all stakeholders.

Citing research on the cross-vaccination of those in Thailand who have received mixed doses, they said mixed shots will provide greater immunity against the Delta variant, and protect frontline medical workers. The Delta variant is spreading in the country and accounts for 69% of cases found in Bangkok, they said.

In the United Kingdom, the interval between AstraZeneca doses is shortened from 12 weeks to eight weeks after immunisation from the first dose was not adequate against the Delta variant, they said.

In Thailand, findings of two studies on cross-vaccination showed the immunity of mixed dose recipients was eight times higher than that of Sinovac vaccine recipients, it said.

The immunity against the Delta variant in all mixed-dose recipients was also found to be high and it could be assumed the efficacy of the combined vaccines against the variant was at 80%, it said.

One study was carried out by Chulalongkorn University's faculty of medicine and the other by the Department of Medical Sciences and National Science and Technology Development Agency.

"The decision to combine vaccines will protect frontline health workers who screen, diagnose and treat Covid-19 patients infected with the Delta strain," it said.

"The decision to mix vaccines cannot wait for proof that two doses of the Sinovac vaccine aren't effective.

"While proof of efficacy of combined jabs isn't firmly established, we support the findings on the level of immunity among recipients and rare serious side-effects," they said. "We have decided to support the decision."

Meanwhile, Maharat Nakhon Ratchasima Hospital in the province's Muang district said on its Facebook page on Thursday it will stop inoculating people against Covid-19 at the CentralPlaza Nakhon Ratchasima department store from today.

The announcement was met with a storm of protest after thousands had earlier registered to be inoculated there as new daily Covid-19 cases continue to rise.

On Facebook, Dr Jade Boonyawongwirote, assistant director of the hospital, blamed the stoppage on the confusion over the government's policy on mixing vaccines.

The Public Health Ministry recommended administering Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines.

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