Ministry stands by mixed-dose vaccination approach

Ministry stands by mixed-dose vaccination approach

The Public Health Ministry yesterday confirmed that two jabs of Sinovac vaccine are no longer administered to tackle Covid, as the mix-and-match vaccine approach is now the preferred way to tackle the Delta variant.

Led by Kiatiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary for health, public health officials yesterday clarified the vaccination policy and medical care for Covid-19 patients after it came under fire in the censure debate.

Dr Kiatiphum said the decision to mix the Sinovac vaccine with AstraZeneca vaccine was based on its effectiveness and safety and was to alleviate vaccine shortages threatening to affect the rollout programme.

He said mixed-dose vaccination, in which people would receive the AstraZeneca vaccine after their first Sinovac shot, was adopted as vaccination policy.

He said that as more vaccines from other manufacturers arrive in the fourth quarter, the ministry would look at ways to boost protection against variants of Covid-19.

Supakij Sirilak, director-general of the Department of Medical Sciences, said mixed dose vaccinations had also helped speed up the vaccination programme.

He said a study into the effectiveness of the mix-and-match approach and the administration of a booster shot with a different vaccine was now complete, pending publication.

"The approach is safe and more than 1.5 million people have received mixed doses. Please don't confuse the public. Currently, we no longer administer two shots of Sinovac," he said.

Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control (DDC), said the change in vaccination policy was made in response to the pandemic.

He said the mixed dose approach had been reviewed by experts on infectious diseases, vaccines and epidemiology and by the technical panel under the national communicable disease committee.

On medical care for Covid-19 patients, Manas Phothaporn, deputy director-general of the Department of Medical Services, said treatment and care policy was revised to reflect the outbreak.

He said the antiviral drug Favipiravir is being dispensed to mild-symptom Covid-19 patients including those in the home/community isolation programme, while the fa talai jone (green chiretta) medicinal herb is handed out to asymptomatic patients with no underlying health conditions.

Meanwhile, Thiravat Hemachudha, the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Diseases Health Science Centre chief, yesterday raised questions on his Facebook as to why the mixed dose vaccine gave higher protection than two doses of AstraZeneca.

He cited factors that could influence the result of the studies such as when antibody tests were taken or if the vaccine recipients of two doses of AstraZeneca had certain conditions.

During the early stages of the vaccine rollout programme, AstraZeneca shots were recommended to people aged 60 and over.

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