The mixture of two different types of vaccines, specifically AstraZeneca and Pfizer, is currently being considered by the government, says Khairy Jamaluddin, Coordinating Minister for National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK).
The minister explained that the “mix-and-match” method could be implemented to improve vaccine efficacy against COVID-19 variants.
Speaking at a webinar hosted by the Oxford and Cambridge Society of Malaysia last night, he said the Institute of Clinical Research (ICR) had already presented a paper on the method to the Special Committee for Ensuring Access to COVID-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV).
“We have some real-world data that we received from Germany about heterologous vaccinations using AstraZeneca for the first dose and Pfizer for the second dose, which has been shown to boost the neutralising antibodies and to be more effective against variants,” said Jamaluddin. “We are watching this very closely. We don’t want to make a quick decision on this before getting more data.”
“The data points are coming in for heterologous vaccinations. Once the technical working group is clear on that, they will advise the committee that I chair with the Health Minister (Dr Adham Baba), and we will implement heterologous vaccinations,” Khairy said.
This follows reports of preliminary data from a German trial involving only 26 young patients, indicating that combining AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccine doses may trigger immune responses up to four times stronger than administering two doses of the same vaccine.
The results of the study revealed that heterologous vaccination methods were more effective in neutralising antibodies to protect recipients from new Covid-19 strains such as the Alpha and Beta strains.
It was also reported that repeated doses of either vaccine became less effective over time or induced more severe side effects with repeated doses. Similar trials in Spain involving 600 people reportedly found that using the same mix triggered a potent immune response against Covid-19 as well.